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How do medical conditions rank?

Date Added 20/07/ 2017

People are often referred to services to assist in the treatment or management of their long-term conditions (health conditions). After analysing over 160,000 referral records we are able to provide a ranking of the most common conditions stated at the point of referral. We were amazed to see that over 235,000 medical conditions have been stated.

Number of referrals

At the time of writing we analysed 162,960 referrals from the ReferAll system. There is a spread of service within the system, typically, exercise referral, weight management, health trainers, smoking cessation and public health support services. The number of services total 171.

Stated medical conditions

From the referral data, we could ascertain that 237,589 medical conditions have been stated at the point of referral. Many people referred presented with 2 or more conditions which is often an inclusion criteria to gain access to the service. This demonstrates that the average referral presents with 1.4 medical conditions.

Services and methods are diverse as were the text of the medical condition. To smooth out the differences in naming conventions a mapping exercise was undertaken to map conditions back to a more consistent label. For example, the stated conditions “diabetes type 1” and “type 1 diabetes” were mapped to Diabetes.

So how do these conditions rank?

There were some obvious conditions that featured highly such as overweight.obesity, although there is still discussion as to whether obesity is a medical condition or not (we are not going to cover that in this blog post).

Interestingly, depression ranked lower than expected but it is not clear if services are wrongly categorising or preferring to categorise as anxiety/stress or mental health.

The chart below displays the number of times a medical condition has been stated.

Count of Medical Conditions

The table below shows the same condtions ranked by occurrence.

Rank

Condition

Number

1

OVERWEIGHT/OBESITY

70089

2

DIABETES

27786

3

HYPERTENSION

24496

4

MUSCULOSKELETAL

16473

5

DEPRESSION

13717

6

MENTAL HEALTH

11278

7

ARTHRITIS

10218

8

CHD RISK/NHS HEALTH CHECK

10070

9

ANXIETY

9649

10

CHD/CVD/CAD

9244

11

ASTHMA

7907

12

HYPERCHOLESTEROLAEMIA

6417

13

OTHER

6082

14

COPD/RESPIRATORY

3863

15

OSTEOPOROSIS/BONE DENSITY

1997

16

CVA/TIA

1947

17

CANCERS

1804

18

PAIN

1186

19

FALLS

980

20

ANGINA

539

21

CHRONIC FATIGUE/ME

260

22

CYSTIC FIBROSIS

2

It is clear to see that the most common condition is overweight/obesity. We were surprised to see diabetes in second place but many of our services aim to target people with diabetes so this may not be a surprise.

So, how do the top three conditions compare across the UK average?

Condition ReferAll Average UK Average
Obesity 43% 63%
Diabetes 17% 5.3%
Hypertension 15% 24%

With one exception (Diabetes) the data contained within ReferAll shows a considerably lower than average prevalence than the UK average. Looking more closely at diabetes many programmes within ReferAll are built to specifically target those with diabetes which goes some way to explain the higher than average percentage.

Summary

Recording medical conditions within a service provides the following benefits:

  • Ensure safe and effective programming of the chosen intervention
  • Provides service providers with data from which to target services
  • Allows commissioners and other bodies to understand how services can impact on the treatment and management of conditions

 If your scheme or service is struggling to record such data then please download our complimentary guide on effective referral schemes by clicking the image below. Or contact us via our website.

Running an effective referral scheme

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