AESGP releases new evidence on the economic and social value of self-care in Europe

New AESGP Summary Report assesses today’s reality and projections for the future


In advance of the publication of its new study “Self-Care in Europe: Economic and Social Impact on Individuals and Society”, later in 2022, AESGP has released a Summary Report as well as an accompanying video highlighting key findings and data from the research project. Overall, the study finds that resources freed up through adequate healthcare policies that support and encourage self-care can play a significant role in building more resilient health systems across Europe.


 

Due to a combination of demographic changes and medical progress, healthcare systems across Europe are facing serious financial challenges. Public health approaches based on a more systematic practise of self-care can help save time and costs. However, the strengthening of self-care is still insufficiently promoted.

In a bid to identify the current contribution of self-care products to European healthcare systems, and its future potential, AESGP has commissioned the consultancy and research firm May und Bauer GbR to lead an ambitious research project “Self-Care in Europe: Economic and Social Impact on Individuals and Society”.

The project investigates the economic and social value of self-care measures in 30 European countries (EU27, Norway, Switzerland and the UK) following four objectives:

  • Quantify the current benefits and potentials of self-care for healthcare systems and individuals.
  • Quantify the economic and social value of self-care, should more OTC medicines be available.
  • Develop a model to rank European countries in terms of access to and uptake of self-care.
  • Derive a set of health policy recommendations addressed to national and European policy makers for an economically reasonable and clinically acceptable development of self-care.

 

Overall, the study finds that resources freed up through an adequate self-care policy can play a significant role in building more resilient health systems across Europe.

 

Health System

Now

Future

Financial savings

34 billion Euros 17.6 billion Euros

Healthcare workforce savings

+120,000 doctors needed if there was not self-care +58,000 doctors potentially released for other tasks

 

The availability of self-care products – notably thanks to switches from prescription (Rx) to non-prescription (OTC) status – coupled with an increasing self-care behaviour bring substantial benefits for both healthcare professionals and individuals, particularly in terms of time spent for the examination and treatment of minor ailments.

In Europe, 1.2 billion minor health issues are self-managed every year with self-care products. This saves health systems and national economies EUR 34 billion that would otherwise have been spent on unnecessary doctor appointments, on medical expenses and on missed work.

Self-care also reduces the burden on health systems by allowing medical doctors to focus on more complex and serious cases. The study suggests that, if self-care options were not available, we would need about 120,000 more doctors in Europe right now.

The study also finds that, if more self-care products were available for self-manageable situations like it is already the case in some European countries, additional resources worth around EUR 17.6 billion could be released each year for society. In addition, 58,000 more physicians could be freed up for other important tasks in the healthcare systems.

Besides these findings, the study portrays some examples of concrete measures and incentives that have a proven positive effect on expanding self-care and focus on political commitment, pharmacists, the general public and physicians. It concludes that the role of each stakeholder towards self-care can be strengthened through individually targeted and structured system approaches.

We hope that the extensive evidence base revealed in the AESGP study will serve as a foundation in the development of health policies in favour of the promotion of self-care”, highlights Jurate Svarcaite, AESGP Director-General.

The guiding role of pharmacists in the health system, as well as their significance as primary care providers for minor ailments, should also be further strengthened in order to release the full potential of self-care”, she continues.

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