On 12 March 2015, the CfWI published Modelling the effect of multimorbidity on the demand for health services in England, which sets out to quantify the relationship between multimorbidity and health service use, a factor which is recognised as having the potential to impact on the healthcare system.
The aim of this project is to better understand the prevalence of comorbidities and their impact on health service demand so that we can incorporate it into our healthcare workforce modelling. Our research suggests:
- Chronic disease multimorbidity and the presence of multiple long-term conditions are important in explaining the demand for health services such as GP consultations, outpatient visits and the number of nights spent in hospital.
- Using different measures of multimorbidity according to severity, can obtain similar results; people with more than one chronic illness utilise more health services compared to people with a single chronic disease. These results may have important implications for estimating future demand for different types of health services and for workforce planning.
- With co-existing chronic illnesses becoming more widespread in the population as a whole, workforce planning will be essential to meet the increased demand for health services that accompanies increasing multimorbidity.
We suggested to PHE and the DH that:
- There is a need to collect continuous information of patients, including children, suffering from multiple illnesses as well as their healthcare utilisation patterns. This will enable more accurate estimations of the demand for healthcare utilisation and future forecasts.
- There is also a need for prospective cohort studies to properly study multimorbidity and its consequences where multimorbidity measures are collected by trained healthcare professionals – this will allow for more vigorous analysis in the future.
This technical paper is an adapted version of an MSc Health Economics dissertation by a student who worked with the CfWI over the summer of 2014.