Discovery Health, a leading healthcare provider, has launched a groundbreaking Disease Prevention Program that leverages advanced predictive modeling to identify high-risk individuals for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. By implementing early intervention strategies and providing comprehensive support, this initiative aims to improve the health outcomes and life expectancy of its members. The program addresses the increasing prevalence of these noncommunicable diseases, which have a significant impact on global and South African populations.
Rising Prevalence of Diabetes and Heart Disease
According to the International Diabetes Federation, approximately one in ten South Africans have diabetes, with nearly half of them undiagnosed. Moreover, diabetes has tripled in prevalence since 2010 and remains a leading cause of death among South African women. Discovery Health’s data also reveals a 19% increase in its members living with diabetes since 2018. Alarmingly, 86% of Discovery Health Medical Scheme (DHMS) members with diabetes also receive regular treatment for heart disease. The Heart and Stroke Foundation reports that heart diseases claim the lives of 225 South Africans every day, despite 80% of cases being preventable.
The Role of Predictive Modelling
To combat these diseases effectively, Discovery Health has integrated advanced predictive modeling into its Disease Prevention Program. By analyzing health check results, claim patterns, family medical history, and other relevant information, the program identifies DHMS members who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease. This proactive approach allows for early detection and intervention, ultimately improving health outcomes and extending individuals’ health span.
The Disease Prevention Program
Once a member is identified as eligible for the Disease Prevention Program, they are contacted by a Discovery Health Coach who explains their eligibility and encourages them to consult with their Premier Plus General Practitioner (GP) to confirm their risk and enroll them in the program. The program offers a range of benefits, including two consultations with a Premier Plus GP, two dietitian consultations, multiple diagnostic tests, and up to 12 coaching sessions delivered by the Discovery Health Care Services team.
Throughout the program, members work closely with a Health Coach and Dietitian to establish lifestyle goals and receive ongoing support. Lifestyle changes, exercise, and medication may be prescribed to address the member’s specific cardiometabolic risk factors. After six months, the Premier Plus GP reassesses the member’s disease risk level, performs necessary tests and measurements, and determines the appropriate course of action.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes
If a member is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes during the program, their Premier Plus GP will register them for the Chronic Illness Benefit and Diabetes Care Program. This program provides access to various tools, coordinated healthcare, and personalized monitoring to actively manage their condition. Based on the severity of the disease, treatment plans may include lifestyle changes, oral medication, or more intensive interventions such as insulin.
The Benefits of Predictive Modelling and Early Detection
Dr. Noluthando Nematswerani, Chief Clinical Officer at Discovery Health, emphasizes the importance of predictive modeling in supporting early disease detection. By identifying warning signs at an early stage, individuals have the opportunity to slow down or halt disease progression, leading to improved health outcomes and a better quality of life. Dr. Nematswerani encourages everyone to undergo regular health checks to monitor their blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol levels, and body mass index. These baseline measurements provide valuable insights for healthcare providers to identify potential health risks and guide individuals in maintaining their well-being.
Discovery Health’s innovative Disease Prevention Program, powered by advanced predictive modeling, marks a significant step in combatting the increasing prevalence of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. By focusing on early detection and intervention, the program aims to improve the life expectancy and health span of DHMS members. Through collaboration with Premier Plus GPs, Health Coaches, and Dietitians, members receive comprehensive support, lifestyle guidance, and appropriate medical intervention, ultimately leading to better health outcomes. The integration of predictive modeling sets a new standard for disease prevention and management, ensuring a healthier future for individuals in South Africa and beyond.