St.LukesHealth: Urgent need to focus on prevention

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Tasmanian-based private health insurer St.LukesHealth says a new report highlights the "urgent need" to change the way healthcare is delivered in the state.

According to the data, Tasmanians in the 25-to-34 age group are more likely to have unprotected sex, brush their teeth only once a day and have higher rates of depression and anxiety when compared to the national average. More than half also identify as overweight or obese.
St.LukesHealth commissioned a report to better understand the current and future health status of 25-to-34-year-olds and identify what lifestyle behaviours contribute to poor health and preventable hospitalisations.
The study saw the insurer conduct its own survey from August to September 2018 and work alongside health organisations KP Health and Healthy Tasmania to delve into existing state and national data.
“Health is the single biggest issue affecting our state,” said St.LukesHealth director and Launceston GP Jerome Muir Wilson.
“Not only is it the biggest spend in the State Budget, unhealthy people cannot contribute to our communities when they are unable to work, learn and innovate.
“To relieve these pressures and future-proof our health system, we need to urgently support young Tasmanians and their families to form life-long healthy habits so they don’t become the chronically ill of tomorrow.”

The report found that poor dental health is the most common reason for preventable hospitalisations in the state with close to half brushing their teeth less than once a day or only once a day.

More than half are overweight or obese, a key factor known to cause chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while more than a third of men reported having safe sex only 'sometimes' or 'never' with chlamydia accounting for more than 95 per cent of all sexually transmitted diseases in the state. More than one-third of Tasmanians have reported accessing professional help for their mental health.

“This report provides St.LukesHealth with the data we need to re-look at the products and services we offer our members and consider what else we can provide for the greater Tasmanian community to make sure we’re targeting health issues that will improve the overall health of our state,” said Dr Muir Wilson.

“But we can’t do this alone, we need help. St.LukesHealth hopes others will join with us to consciously change the way we provide health services to focus on preventing hospitalisations and contributing to the future of Tasmania.

“It is complex, it will be hard work but it must be done. We need strong leadership and the entire community to start thinking and acting differently when they deliver or receive healthcare in the Tasmanian Health System.

“This new data provides an incredible insight into Tasmania’s future and can’t be ignored.”