Why healthcare needs to be inclusive

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Accusations of healthcare inequalities have been hitting the headlines again in recent weeks, with renewed media interest in analysis by The Lancet last year that showed black women have a 43% higher risk of pregnancy loss than white women. They are also four times more likely to die in childbirth and are vulnerable to long-term health problems like blood clots, heart disease and depression.

Meanwhile, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people have been more seriously affected during the Covid-19 pandemic – with, in some cases, a fourfold higher risk of dying than white people.

The reasons behind such headlines are complex, involving a range of demographic, geographic and socio-economic factors such as where people live or their occupation, as well as their genetic make-up. But what we do know is that if people feel excluded or on the margins of society, there is often a direct impact on their health. They may find it hard to know where to find the health services they need or how to get to them – or feel unwelcome when they attend a clinic, for example.

Inclusion within healthcare is vital to ensure people’s differences are valued and everyone is treated equally and supported to look after themselves – whether through preventative measures or through seeking treatment when issues arise.

The benefits of inclusive healthcare are not just for the patients themselves in terms of longer, healthier lives. It’s more cost effective for healthcare systems to prevent disease as much as possible or at least treat problems at an early stage. And society as a whole benefits if people are healthier and able to work and support themselves and their families.

That’s why digital health is growing in importance. As data and digital technologies increasingly converge with medicines, devices and diagnostics, instant access to a vast amount of healthcare information and personalised treatment will be easier than ever before for all of us.

Here at Sanome we are focusing on identifying the combinations of biomarkers that signify the start of different illnesses – opening the door to a simple at-home test that could shed light on even the very earliest signs of disease. No matter where that home is or who lives there.