Healthcare: Transitioning from reactive to preventive care
Now Reading
Healthcare: Transitioning from reactive to preventive care

Healthcare: Transitioning from reactive to preventive care

Encouraging a proactive approach to healthcare rather than a reactive one is not only health-centric but kind on the pocket too

Health survey

The phrase ‘Prevention is better than cure’ attributed to Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus, is set to become a mainstay in the modern world of healthcare.

Encouraging a proactive approach to healthcare rather than a reactive one is not only health-centric but kind on the pocket too.

Healthcare systems were traditionally designed around reactive care, whereby the central focus was on diagnosing and managing ailments and critical health conditions.

Preventive healthcare shifts the spotlight to a proactive model, one that encourages healthy living, early detection of diseases and the evasion of chronic conditions as much as possible.

Broader picture 
The importance of preventive healthcare in today’s world cannot be understated. Sedentary lifestyles, stress, unhealthy dietary choices and protracted commuting hours continue to weigh on the human mind and body.

Numbers offer a worrying snapshot: Almost 500 million new cases of preventable noncommunicable diseases will occur between 2020 and 2030, incurring treatment costs of over $300bn – or around $27bn annually – if there is no change in the current prevalence of physical inactivity, a World Health Organization (WHO) report reveals.

The largest economic cost is set to occur among high-income countries, which will account for 70 per cent of healthcare expenditure on treating illness resulting from physical inactivity, the report read. The WHO report states that one of the central roles and responsibilities of primary healthcare providers is to support patients in living healthy lives.

“As trusted sources of health information and advice, primary health and other health and social care professionals are at the forefront of direct, face-to face patient assessment and are ideally positioned to provide effective interventions on physical activity for the prevention and management of chronic diseases and mental health,” it read.

“Healthcare providers have been technically focused on sick care, treating those who were ill. In fact, many times it is a misnomer to call it healthcare as it is more of sick care. This is changing slowly with healthcare organisations encouraging people to make good health a top priority,” says Dr Azad Moopen, founder chairman and managing director, Aster DM Healthcare.

“We are witnessing a strong demand of healthcare services and I think it is very important for healthcare providers to adapt to an integrated approach in order to cater to the needs of patients,” he adds.

Among numerous diseases, diabetes is one of the fastest growing global health emergencies. In 2021, it was estimated that 537 million people had diabetes, and this number is predicted to grow to 643 million by 2030, and to 783 million by 2045, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Meanwhile, an estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2019, constituting 32 per cent of global deaths, according to WHO.

To avoid challenging health scenarios, individuals can induct a few protocols within their lives for effective health management. Regular medical checkups and screenings as well as immunisations are some of the preventive measures that can prove beneficial for holistic wellbeing.

“It will be advisable for people to screen for lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidemia, etc. through routine screening which will allow these to be detected quite early to prevent life threatening diseases in future. People who are at risk must also undergo mental health screenings in addition to physical ones. Apart from this, there is also dental and eye health to consider, which are as important. The early detection of related issues can help prevent future complications as well,” explains Dr Moopen.

Technology pitching in 
Much like other industries, technology has been a growth driver across healthcare. Technological innovation in recent years has not only helped change the way individuals approach healthcare but has also transformed patient engagement. From wearables to virtual consultations to real-time data collection, technology has eased the transition from reactive to routine care.

“Healthcare providers are relying more and more on technology and digital services. Wearables such as Fitbit are a core part of this technological shift and can help individuals and healthcare providers identify preventive care opportunities by working with information such as heart health, sleep and physical activity,” notes Prateek Kewalramani, head of Marketing, Fitbit – MEA at Google.

Wearables are expected to gain further traction – the International Data Corporation forecasts that the wearables market will record a fi ve-year compound annual growth rate of 5.1 per cent, with unit shipments reaching 628.3 million by the end of 2026.

“We’ve come to be aware of wearable devices as smart watches, whose features include tracking physical activity, monitoring heart rates and helping people get fit. But the potential of wearable devices, including smart patches and monitoring devices, has not been fully realised,” says Akram Bouchenaki, CEO of Abdul Latif Jameel Health.

“As both patients and doctors become more comfortable using these devices, their adoption will grow, helping capture real time data, detect, and manage chronic conditions and avoid serious illnesses.”

From reactive to routine
Transitioning from reactive action to preventive care will not only ease the burden on healthcare service providers but also help pare chronic health conditions and inculcate a culture of holistic wellbeing.

Also read: Special report: Why UAE has taken centre stage in the healthcare space


Scroll To Top