Why is it that we are taking more prescription drugs than ever before, while chronic, debilitating and life-limiting conditions are on the increase?
Today in the UK almost half of adults regularly take prescription medicines. Over 20% are taking three or more drugs together, with the total cost to our NHS in excess of £15 billion every year.
In the US, an estimated half to over two-thirds of Americans are using one prescription drug and more than a fifth are prescribed three or more different medicines together. Yet we know that many conditions including cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes could be prevented, delayed or improved with changes to lifestyle, specifically diet and exercise.
Cardiovascular disease affects around 7 million people in the UK, with 42,000 dying from it before their 75th birthday every year. It accounts for nearly one-third of all prescriptions with over 65 million issued to help with high blood pressure, heart failure and managing cholesterol levels. Globally cardiovascular disease accounts for 30% of all deaths, 17.5 million a year.
Meanwhile Type 2 diabetes has become the fastest-growing health crisis of our time, with diagnoses in the UK doubling over the last 20 years. Around 4.6 million people are currently living with the disease and an estimated 12.3 million people are at increased risk of developing it. Obesity is the leading cause for the majority of preventable cases and at least three in five sufferers could have prevented or delayed the disease by making positive lifestyle changes.
It seems like the drugs don’t work anymore, but maybe we need to consider a world where the drugs don’t have to work. We are seeking solutions that take the emphasis away from reactive treatment, in favour of a proactive approach, led by the individual themselves. Current healthcare is really ‘sick-care’, dealing primarily with curing, rather than prevention. There has to be a shift towards a new healthcare model with people actively engaged in managing their own conditions. The aim is to keep them well, thus reducing the pressure on services and products to treat the unwell.
The latest developments in wearable technology and remote monitoring offer tangible opportunities for people to take more control of their own health. The use of wearable trackers and smartwatches has grown quickly, blazing a trail for the next generation of more seamless and integrated wearables in the very near future.
Our Prevayl™ technology uses sensors incorporated into the fabric of everyday clothing that will make wrist-worn trackers and even smartphones redundant. The clothing will form part of people’s basic wardrobe because it puts fashion first. The majority of people who need to improve their activity, exercise and diet don’t exactly embrace the idea of living 24/7 in skin-tight gym gear. Instead beautifully designed, everyday clothing will contain sensors that can pick up on much more than just heart rate and activity levels. They will pick up bio-signals - electrical, magnetic, chemical, mechanical, acoustic, optical and thermal – to continuously monitor health and well-being.
Prevayl’s proprietary software will collect and crunch the personal data, making it readily available and easy to understand. GPs and other health professionals will also be able to access this data, with the patient’s permission of course, in order to see their progress and advise continuing strategies for improvement. In other scenarios, the ability to monitor people’s health remotely will allow professionals to intervene more quickly if they see a patient is becoming at increased risk of a stroke or fall, which is critical as prevention and earlier intervention often makes the difference between life and death for the patient.
By putting people in closer touch with their bodies we believe that over time there will be a significant reduction in the need for some prescribed drugs. People will be able to control, reduce, delay or even avoid widespread and chronic conditions by making healthy choices and building healthier habits into their daily lives.