Patient-centered care begins with self-care, which is a resource estimated to save healthcare systems in the UK and the US billions of dollars.
This study estimates the effect that self-care could have on Canadian healthcare utilization and investigates the attitudes that influence this practice.
A telephone survey was conducted of 1,212 Canadians to determine the incidence of three common minor ailments across Canada: headaches/migraines, colds/’flu, and indigestion/heartburn. An on-line survey followed of 1,509 Canadians, who recently suffered one of these ailments, regarding their treatment behaviors and attitudes. The cost of doctor’s visits for the three minor ailments was calculated and hypothetical cost-savings were calculated for the proportion that saw a doctor despite reporting mild symptoms.
One quarter of Canadian adults experience colds/’flu each month, which costs the Canadian healthcare system $625 million annually in doctor’s visits alone. If the 16% of people who saw a doctor for their mild cold/’flu symptoms practiced self-care instead it would save $98 million annually or allow almost half a million Canadians to have access to a family doctor. One perception that may drive Canadians to their doctors is the inability to find a consumer health product that works for their minor ailments.
While doctors and pharmacists play a critical role in encouraging self-care, the consumer health products industry has a responsibility to provide new, effective self-care options.
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