According to a new survey, some patients with major neurological diseases believe they were not properly diagnosed for more than a year, potentially leading to patient anxiety, unnecessary or inappropriate treatments, delays in appropriate care, and added costs to the global healthcare system. The opinion survey examined the impact of diagnosis delays in the most prominent neurological disorders: Alzheimer’s (AD), Parkinson’s (PD) and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The survey, commissioned by GE Healthcare and conducted by Praxis Research, Inc., reflects opinions of physicians and patients in the US, UK, Germany and France. A total of 240 physicians, consisting of hospital and office-based neurologists and psychiatrists (UK-only) participated. A total of 101 patients with Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease participated. According to the survey, median times in patient estimates of time to diagnosis from onset of symptoms were seven to 12 months across all disease states. AD was diagnosed fastest, on average (12.7 months), followed by MS (13.6 months) and PD (14.7 months). This time included the time that patients waited (from less than a week to more than a year) before consulting a physician. Physicians who participated in the survey said approximately a third of patients could or should have been diagnosed faster and may suffer unnecessarily as a result of delay. “It is not acceptable that some patients with progressive neurological disorders have to wait so long before they receive a diagnosis, during which time many face the possibility of receiving the wrong or unnecessary treatment and needing to consult with multiple healthcare professionals, “ said Gabrielle Silver, MD and Head of Neuroscience Marketing at GE Healthcare. “This delay can be stressful to patients, and can also cost the health economy millions of dollars in unnecessary use of resources. Patients and their families should not have to tolerate lengthy delays.”
The survey also showed that, on average, 86 percent of patients across these disease areas said they suffered some anxiety when they first visited a physician about their symptoms. More MS sufferers exhibited anxiety (94.1 percent) than did PD or AD patients during the period of diagnosis. However, on average 52.4 percent said that finding out what disease they had was a relief.There is a significant resource demand placed on the healthcare system during the diagnosis period as costs associated with lost productivity. Costs associated with lost productivity and emergency room visits in the UK total £255,210,425 and total in the US $228,200,133 based on totals of per patient costs and annual incidence rates. 1 The survey found:
- It was common for patients to see both general practitioners and specialists during this period (even before they receive a diagnosis) many making multiple visits. MS patients required more visits (average 6 visits) ahead of AD (5) and PD (<4)
- Physicians noted that some patients suffered complications of their conditions before they received a final diagnosis. In fact, nearly 20 percent of MS sufferers made unscheduled hospital visits during their diagnosis period
- Many patients said that, during the diagnosis period they were unable to conduct their normal lives. More than half of those diagnosed with MS were employed during the diagnosis period and most of them needed to take time off of work – many taking more than two weeks off for this or another medical condition
Because of the steady increase in the prevalence of progressive neurological disorders, governments around the world are taking notice and committing money and resources to research to better under the conditions.
- US: President Obama announced earlier this year a new brain-mapping initiative, for which he has proposed $110 million in federal funding for 2014. One of the program’s major initiatives aims to understand how the brain is affected by neurological conditions.2
- UK: In February 2009 the “National Dementia Strategy for England: Living well with dementia” was launched. The five-year plan was supported by an investment of GBP 150 million to support local services to deliver the strategy.3
- France: Since 2007, dementia has been a priority for France, and in 2008 the National Plan for Alzheimer’s and related diseases was released, which pledged over 1.6 billion Euros over 5 years. The Plan has already improved access to diagnosis by creating memory clinics.4
- Germany: Germany does not have a national dementia plan. However, the issue of dementia is addressed through various Ministries (health, Family, Seniors, Research, Work and Social Affairs). The German Alzheimer Association, Deutsche Alzheimer Gesellschaft, is campaigning to have a national plan, or at least a working group to liaise between the various ministries.
For decades, GE Healthcare has produced diagnostics scanners, imaging agents and software to help physicians see more clearly inside the brain and aid better patient management. In 2013, a $60 million investment with National Football League to develop new MR technology for traumatic brain injury, inclusion in a $20 million Global Challenge to advance diagnosis and prognosis of mild TBI.GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services to meet the demand for increased access, enhanced quality and more affordable healthcare around the world. GE (NYSE:GE) works on things that matter - great people and technologies taking on tough challenges. From medical imaging, software & IT, patient monitoring and diagnostics to drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies and performance improvement solutions, GE Healthcare helps medical professionals deliver great healthcare to their patients. For our latest news, please visit http://newsroom.gehealthcare.com For our latest news, please visit http://newsroom.gehealthcare.com 1 Data on file, GE Healthcare 2 U.S. National Institutes for Health BRAIN Initiative. Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infographics/brain-initiative 3 United Kingdom Department of Health. Living Well With Dementia: a national dementia strategy. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/168221/dh_094052.pdf 4 France – National Dementia Plan. Available at: http://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Policy-in-Practice2/National-Dementia-Plans/France?#fragment-1