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Understanding economic impact of physiological health

Understanding economic impact of physiological health

Healthcare economics and human physiology represent two distinct yet deeply interconnected fields that converge to shape the landscape of modern healthcare systems. Economics provides the framework for understanding the allocation of scarce resources within healthcare, and physiology underpins the biological mechanisms that govern human health and disease. The physiologists investigate how different systems, such as the cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems, function individually and interact with each other. Intricate relationship between healthcare economics and physiology is explicated in the following lines, highlighting the ways in which factors concerning physiology, influence economic outcomes within healthcare systems.

One of the most significant ways in which physiology intersects with healthcare economics is through the concept of health production functions. Health production functions describe how inputs like medical care, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors correspond to health outcomes. Physiology plays a crucial role in shaping these production functions, as individual health status, genetic predispositions and lifestyle choices, all influence the effectiveness of healthcare interventions. For instance, consider the treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Physiology dictates how patients respond to medications, the progression of their diseases, and the likelihood of complications. Healthcare economists must take these physiological factors into account when evaluating the cost-effectiveness of different treatment strategies and allocating resources accordingly. A personalized approach to healthcare that considers individual physiological profiles can lead to better health outcomes and more efficient resource utilisation.

Physiological health disparities contribute to economic disparities within healthcare systems. Socioeconomic factors such as income, education, and access to healthcare services are closely intertwined with physiological health outcomes. Individuals from underprivileged socioeconomic backgrounds often experience higher rates of chronic diseases, greater barriers to accessing healthcare, and poorer health outcomes. These disparities not only impose significant economic costs on individuals and society but also challenge the equitable distribution of healthcare resources.

The economic implications of physiological health extend beyond the realm of healthcare provision to encompass broader societal costs. The economic burden of non-communicable diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease , and mental illness is staggering, encompassing direct healthcare expenditures, productivity losses, and reduced quality of life. Addressing these challenges requires a multifaceted approach that considers both the economic and physiological determinants of health.

The mechanisms for healthcare financing and reimbursement have a significant impact on both the provision and quality of healthcare services, consequently influencing health outcomes. There are two types of payment models; fee-for- service provided and Value -based model. In Pakistan, former model is preferred where doctors receive payment for each service, they render. It may create incentives for excessive utilization of medical treatments or discourage preventive measures, thereby resulting in less-than-optimal health results. On the contrary, payment model based on value refers to the systems where attending doctor is reimbursed or paid based on the quality and effectiveness of the care, he/she delivers, rather than simply the quantity of services provided. In this payment system, the emphasis is on achieving positive health outcomes for patients and ensuring that the care provided is efficient and cost-effective. It typically involves assessing doctors on several key metrics, including improvements in health status of the under-treatment patient or disease management, patient’s satisfaction and the overall cost of care. This model prioritizes the promotion of physiological health, as well as the prevention of diseases.

The intersection of healthcare economics and physiology underscores the complex interplay between biological and economic factors in shaping health outcomes and healthcare systems. Understanding this nexus is essential for developing evidence-based policies and interventions that promote both economic efficiency and physiological well-being within healthcare systems. By recognizing the inherent interconnectedness of economics and physiology, policymakers, healthcare providers, and researchers can work collaboratively to address the root causes of health disparities, improve healthcare access and quality, and ultimately enhance health outcomes of the population.

The author is a Assistant Professor, United Medical & Dental College, Karachi

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