Chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma and COPD are becoming increasingly more common, which also makes them costly for employers and the healthcare systems. Asthma alone causes the loss of over 5 billion disability-adjusted life years (DALY) in the EU every year, according to WHO. Direct and indirect costs with the monetized value of the DALY’s lost add up to a price tag of as high as 72 billion euros. In addition, conditions like asthma often affect the whole family. Children’s sick days lead to increased absenteeism for parents, as well.
The majority of the financial burden of chronic respiratory conditions is unnecessary. It is mainly caused by underutilization of treatment medication, which treats the underlying cause of the condition instead of the acute symptoms (as opposed to the rescue medication). With consistent care and good adherence to treatment medication, most lung patients could live a balanced life – and costs could be cut significantly.
Studies show that guided self-care programmes are efficient in driving adherence to treatment. The Finnish National Asthma Programme managed to lower the cost of care per patient by as much as 72%! The programme ran between 1994–2004, and one of the most important actions taken was to train the patients for guided self-management of asthma.