July 28, 2017 – Curant Health Director of Clinical Services, Vickie Andros, Pharm.D., in
The Economist Intelligent Unit – Hepatitis C virus (HCV), known as the “silent epidemic”, is a blood-borne infection that can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer. While 71 million people live with chronic HCV globally, many of those infected remain asymptomatic and undiagnosed until the disease progresses and causes liver damage. There is currently no HCV vaccine, though curative treatments are becoming increasingly available.
To explore policies and initiatives to curb the spread of HCV, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), with the sponsorship of AbbVie, launched The Path to Zero programme to enhance awareness and initiate a global dialogue around innovative solutions towards eliminating HCV. This article explores the benefits of technological innovation towards the elimination of HCV.
Lack of awareness, insufficient healthcare infrastructure and competing priorities have slowed progress to eliminate HCV. Many governments lack national strategies to combat the disease, despite its link to more deaths than HIV/AIDS in some countries. Innovative treatments that are easy to administer have only recently become available.
No single intervention can alleviate the global burden of HCV. Yet technology, or the application of scientific knowledge and methods, can help address complex challenges associated with HCV. Electronic medical records systems and mobile apps, for example, can help raise HCV awareness, facilitate patient-provider communication and encourage continuity of care by leveraging population data and connecting with patients outside the hospital.
Importantly, these digital tools, combined with the growth in internet access around the world, help service providers reach populations at scale. Indeed, the proliferation of connected devices has helped health practitioners better engage patients by overcoming geographic constraints and lack of resources that may have hampered earlier HCV prevention efforts. The path towards HCV elimination is a great undertaking, but technology will be a vital component along the way.
Raising HCV awareness
In addition to the lack of awareness of HCV among the general public, clinicians are not always informed of the latest guidelines for prevention and treatment. Digital tools such as telehealth, videoconferencing services, mobile apps and social media have sought to address gaps in knowledge by educating health practitioners, particularly those in remote areas, about HCV.
To read the full article, visit The Economist Intelligence Unit.
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