Manuel Heuer

Manuel Heuer

Chief Operating Officer

Non-Communicable Diseases Continue to Threaten Longevity and Quality of Life

New research from the World Health Organization shows that the leading causes of premature death aren’t related to Covid-19 or other infectious diseases. Instead, the report emphasizes that non-communicable diseases (NCD) remain the primary threat to longevity and quality of life for people worldwide. Each year, 17 million people under the age of 70 die of NCDs.

What Are Non-Communicable Diseases?

Non-communicable diseases comprise a category of health conditions that cannot be passed from person to person. The WHO identifies four main NCDs as the primary causes of mortality in the world:

  • Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic respiratory diseases

While some cases of non-communicable diseases are unpreventable, a large portion of these illnesses can be attributed to environmental and lifestyle factors. Behaviors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol, and physical inactivity all contribute to the proliferation of NCDs. In addition, factors like poor air quality exacerbate the likelihood of NCDs in regions with significant air pollution.

Preventing Non-Communicable Diseases

The WHO encourages leaders in health policy and healthcare to implement preventative measures that can reduce the risk of NCDs. Systems that encourage individuals to be more active, adjust their diet, and avoid tobacco and excessive use of alcohol could prevent people from developing NCDs. The result would be quality of life improvements, extended lifespans, healthcare cost savings, and economic stimulus from healthier, more productive individuals.

Healthcare providers and health insurance systems have a front-line role in addressing risk factors for NCDs. Providers and insurance companies are often the first places individuals turn to for advice on improving their health and preventing long-term illness. The rise of digital health technology provides new opportunities for providers and insurers to interact with individuals who are seeking information on NCD prevention, or who may be unaware of the serious consequences of NCDs.

Using Digital Engagement to Promote Lifestyle Changes

Health insurers can maximize engagement with individuals by adopting tools like dacadoo’s Digital Health Engagement Platform (DHEP) with Wheel of Life™. The Digital Health Engagement Platform (DHEP) is a user-friendly mobile platform that combines motivational techniques from behavioral science with functions from online gaming and social networking. It also incorporates automated digital coaching to activate and engage its users in positive health behavior changes.

At its core, Wheel of Life™ is a tool that evaluates the baseline health and well-being of individuals. The app then uses that information to create personalized goals that encourage individuals to improve their health habits. When users follow the personalized advice in the app, their Health Scores improve, which is a sign of personal success as well as a step toward the prevention of NCDs. For insurers, improved Health Scores provide valuable insights into the health and risk profile of their subscribers.

Health Insurers as Agents of NCD Prevention

By some estimates, efforts to promote lifestyle changes that prevent behavior-linked NCDs could save over two million lives each year and save $3.7 billion in healthcare costs. Reducing the effects of chronic conditions like heart disease and type two diabetes improves the quality of life and reduces consumer and insurance industry spending on their care. Digital engagement is a natural entry point for insurers as they shift to a prevention paradigm in customer relations.

As individuals grow more accustomed to using digital platforms to track and improve their health, insurers can seize the opportunity to shape consumer behavior in more healthful ways. The dacadoo Digital Health Engagement Platform (DHEP) with Wheel of Life™ is an effective tool for improving health outcomes, preventing NCDs, and building positive engagement between individuals and health insurance companies.

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