One of the greatest challenges for healthcare is multimorbidity, the presence in one person of multiple long-term diseases. At least a quarter of the UK population have more than one long-term disease, and those that do are more frequent users of NHS services. The specific diseases an individual has will affect how they interact with the NHS and how long they can expect to live. However, the way healthcare is designed ignores the problem or treats multimorbidity in an overly simplistic way, as present or absent.
In a new study, published today in BMC Medicine, Dr Steven Kiddle and colleagues, use English GP healthcare records to find groups of patients with similar combinations of diseases. They assessed which combinations most affect use of NHS services and how long patients can expect to live. The results showed an unmet need to improve outcomes for younger patients with combinations of drug abuse, alcohol abuse and depression. In addition, it was discovered that chronic pain was a common feature of a majority of groups of patients with multiple long-term diseases, showing the importance of considering multiple diseases when managing pain. The results also demonstrated that the majority of patients over the age of 85 who have multiple long-term diseases had low NHS use and risk of death, in comparison to other groups of multimorbid patients, which has implications for the design of the NHS and further research into improving care for patients with multiple long-term diseases.
Diagram description: The columns are groups of patients 45 – 64 years old we have discovered with more than one long-term condition. The rows correspond to different conditions they can have. The percentages and bars represent how many people in each group have each condition.
Read full paper in BMC Medicine: https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-020-01543-8