Healthcare in Thoughts from the Centre
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Word Mental Health Day: how digital technologies can help meet rising demand for mental health services
By Krissie Ferris, Research Analyst, Centre for Health Solutions
Last Saturday, the 10th of October, was the WHO’s annual World Mental Health Day (WMHD) whose aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts in support of mental health.1 This year’s theme is ‘good mental health for all’, which seems fitting since all of us need to be aware of our own mental health and wellbeing, especially this year with all of us being affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, for those experiencing challenges to their mental health, awareness is unlikely to be enough, and tackling poor mental health will generally require some form of mental health intervention. Throughout the pandemic, however, primary care mental health services (like many other healthcare services) have had to adopt new ways of working to provide access to care in the face of lockdowns and social distancing measures. This has driven a wider adoption of technology–enabled ways of working, and changed fundamentally the face of primary care mental health support. This blog reflects on what has changed, and the opportunities for digital mental health care moving forwards.
By Maria João Cruz, PhD, Research Analyst, Centre for Health Solutions
Clinical trials provide the necessary evidence to prove safety and efficacy of new treatments and medical products. Given that the responses to a specific medication may differ among population subgroups depending on factors such as age, sex, genetic profile and ethnicity, clinical trials need to reflect the demographic diversity of the population that a pharma product is intended to serve.1,2 Last August the Centre published a blog on the importance of inclusion and diversity in clinical trials and why it should be a research priority. At the time, we highlighted the initiatives being launched by regulatory bodies to improve diversity in clinical research but noted that, while there have been some improvements, pharma companies were still struggling to enrol participants from diverse demographic groups, particularly women, racial and ethnic minorities, and the elderly.3
Wake me up when September ends: my reflections on the search for a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, in honour of World Alzheimer’s Month
By Dr Francesca Properzi, PhD. Research Manager, Centre for Health Solutions
Since 2012, September has been celebrated as World Alzheimer’s Month, and this year’s theme is 'Let's talk about dementia'. This is clearly much needed, especially as one person is diagnosed with dementia every three seconds.1 As a neuroscientist, I spent more than 10 years leading a research lab dedicated to finding new approaches for diagnosing and treating neurodegenerative diseases at the Italian Institute of Health in Rome. I also had first-hand experience of the disease, as I had originally accepted that position and left my job in London, to take care of my father, who was himself fighting dementia. Those years have shaped me greatly both personally and professionally and, as September coincides with my last month at the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions, I am delighted to use this blog to provide my reflections on the challenges presented by Alzheimer’s disease and to consider what more needs to be done to expedite progress in identifying treatments and ultimately a cure.
By Samrina Bhatti, MRPharmS, PGDipGPP, Manager, and Karen Taylor, Director, Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions
There is a universally accepted mantra in healthcare that no one should be harmed as a result of the treatment and care they receive. In May 2019, the seventy-second World Health Assembly adopted a resolution, ‘Global action on patient safety’ and endorsed the establishment of World Patient Safety Day (WPSD), to be observed annually on 17 September. The origin of WPSD is based on the fundamental principle of medicine – ‘First, do no harm’. Today, the global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the huge challenges facing health workers, including the heightened risks to their physical and mental health, and associated risk of patient harm. The WHO has therefore selected as the theme for the second WPSD, ‘Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety, under the slogan ‘Safe health workers, Safe patients’; and a call to action, ‘Speak up for health worker safety!’.1 This week’s blog celebrates WPSD by exploring how the safety of health workers, is a priority for patient safety.
By Dr Francesca Properzi, PhD, Research Manager, and Krissie Ferris, Research Analyst, Centre for Health Solutions
This week we launched our report Digital transformation: Shaping the future of European healthcare, our third report in our Shaping the future of health series, focused on the impact of digitalisation on the healthcare sector. While our 2019 report focused on the state of digitalisation in the UK healthcare system, this report extends our research across Europe with the aim of understanding the challenges faced by different countries, as well as the learning opportunities for both the public and private sector to improve ways of working, access to services and deliver a more effective patient and clinician experience.
By Sarah Thomas, managing director, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Deloitte Services LP, and Greg Szwartz, managing director, Life Sciences data science practice lead, Deloitte Consulting LLP
This week we are sharing a blog written by our US colleagues, Sarah Thomas, the managing director of Deloitte’s US Center for Health Solutions, and Greg Szwartz, who leads the life sciences data science practice for Deloitte Consulting LLP. The focus of their blog is on ‘vaccine hesitancy’ and the finding from surveys that show that 25 to 50 per cent of Americans have said they would be hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccination due to concerns about safety and the unprecedented speed of development. In the UK, a survey by Ipsos MORI and King’s College London found that 53 per cent of respondents said they would certainly or very likely get a vaccine against COVID-19, and 16 per cent that they are unlikely to, or definitely will not, get the vaccine.1 We believe that the strategies and tactics identified in the US blog to help improve understanding of behaviours and increase uptake of inoculations are relevant to the UK and indeed to most countries.
By Maria João Cruz, PhD, Research Analyst, Centre for Health Solutions
In early May, we published a blog about the race for a COVID-19 vaccine.1 At the time, biotech and biopharma companies together with research organisations and academia had commenced the development of some 110 potential vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. Notable features of the race include the unprecedented acceleration in the pace of R&D and the significant scale of collaboration and cooperation between stakeholders across multiple geographies.2 By the end of August, there are 203 vaccine candidates under development. Six have already reached Phase III or II/III clinical trials, the last stage of clinical development before vaccines can obtain regulatory approval (see Figure 1).3,4 This was achieved in only few months, rather than the years it would normally take.5 Importantly, the COVID-19 vaccine developers are using a variety of technologies and techniques, ranging from the tried and tested to completely novel approaches. This blog explores the different approaches being used for obtaining an approved and licenced vaccine.
By Karen Taylor, Director, Centre for Health Solutions
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic debate has been growing about the benefits or otherwise of the general public wearing face masks to help control the spread of the virus. While arguments exist on both sides of the debate, history and culture has played a crucial role in polarising opinions. Nevertheless, all countries have accepted the need for mitigation strategies and importantly, the views of public health advisors and most governments have now converged in favour of wearing masks. While growing numbers of people across the world have begun to wear face masks in public, confusion still remains as to the merits or otherwise of wearing a mask. This week’s blog discusses of the supporting evidence for face masks and, why they have become the new ‘must have’ accessory.
By Samrina Bhatti, MRPharmS, PGDipGPP, Manager, Centre for Health Solutions
The growth of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is widely acknowledged as an urgent public health challenge, causing at least 700,000 deaths globally every year.1 AMR also presents serious financial threats in healthcare costs and productivity losses.2 Although COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a growing body of international evidence shows that the global threat of AMR is worsening due to the fact that many patients with COVID-19 symptoms are being prescribed antibiotics partly due to uncertainty about the pathology of the infection; and as a precaution in preventing and treating secondary bacterial infections.3
By Francesca Properzi, PhD, Research Manager, Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have serious and far reaching consequences for the health and wealth of our population. As countries begin to move into the recovery phase, there is an urgent need to learn the lessons from local, national and international responses. A critical feature of the past four months has been an explosion in the scientific data and literature exploring how and why the pandemic has evolved and what impact is it having. This data suggest the virus is highly discriminatory and that in addition to the underlying health and age of individuals, deprivation and population density are crucial causes of higher mortality rates. What is currently less evident are insights on what we could have done to be better prepared and how we can be better prepared next time? This week’s blog provides ‘my take’ on how improving the immune health of vulnerable populations has a pivotal role to play.