Empowering self-care

A great benefit of the modern age is that people are living longer. Advances in technology have had a huge impact on medicine and healthcare, not only in terms of medical, diagnostic and surgical innovations, but also in transforming the way we consume information about health and wellbeing.

As we move further into the 21st century, society must adapt to ensure people with self-treatable conditions, such as intermittent pain, allergies and digestive health issues, are enabled to access the care, support and treatment they need in a way that easily fits into their daily life.

For many with these conditions, self-care empowers them to take greater control of their health choices in a way that suits them. Having the ability to make informed and confident choices, whether that’s using information online, via an app, in a local pharmacy or at a GP surgery, is not only beneficial for our own wellbeing, but also has potential to have huge value to society.

In addition to keeping us fit and well and enabling us to live our lives to the fullest, enhancing our ability to look after ourselves will also help to ensure the sustainability of the healthcare system. Currently, there are around 57 million GP appointments and 3.7 million visits to A&E every year for self-treatable conditions, according to the Proprietary Association of Great Britain. IMS Health estimates this costs the NHS as much as £2.3 billion a year.

At Sanofi, we fully support action to raise awareness of the role self-care plays in improving general health. NHS programmes such as the Stay Well campaign, which aims to improve people’s awareness of their health and the preventative steps they can take, are vital. A self-care strategy, bringing together all the relevant stakeholders, would build on this and other initiatives, to bring expertise and collaborative impact.

We must work to provide information and services through a variety of channels to empower people to be better informed and more confident in managing their own health

Our goal at Sanofi is to protect, enable and support people facing health challenges, so they can live life to its full potential, from the few who suffer from rare diseases to the millions with long-term chronic conditions and everyday ailments.

A priority across our entire business is to support the patients, people and consumers who use our medicines, to enable them to take as much control as possible, by ensuring they can access useful information to support them in their health journey.

This support goes beyond education around medicines. We also work with a wide range of experts, including patient groups and healthcare professionals, to raise awareness of other aspects of wellbeing, such as the recent RefRAme campaign promoting the benefits of mindfulness for those affected by rheumatoid arthritis.

We are constantly working to develop our understanding of how people want to access the support and treatments they need, and the role technology plays in this. Understanding how we can empower those with self-treatable conditions is particularly important in terms of consumer healthcare, where we have a 50-year heritage and an industry-leading portfolio of products in digestive health, pain care, allergy, and vitamins and mineral supplements.

Chris Mummery, head of consumer healthcare, northern and southern Europe, at Sanofi, says: “We are living in an exciting age where digital technology is making it easier for us to understand how and where people consume information about health. As we look to the future, this means we are able to find innovative ways to support people to improve understanding of their health in a way that’s helpful and useful for them.

“We are also looking at how we can best support people to ensure they are getting the advice, care and treatment they need in a setting that’s best for them, while ensuring appropriate compliance and safeguards.”

Now is a great opportunity for all of us to work together to deliver change. We must work to provide information and services through a variety of channels to empower people to be better informed and more confident in managing their own health.