ASK AN EXPERT: How is treatment of chronic illness changing in Czechia?

In many cultures and countries medicine has focused on diagnosing and treating disease; the mindset is slowly changing in Czechia. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 16.05.2024 13:30:00 (updated on 16.05.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

For people in the Czech Republic who have a chronic illness such as arthritis or diabetes, what are some of the challenges of seeking care for managing the treatment of these diseases in the traditional Czech healthcare system?

Medicine has focused on diagnosing and treating diseases in many cultures and countries for many years. The same traditional approach is prevalent in the Czech Republic. Chronic diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, or various liver diseases, take years to develop, and many factors are involved in their onset, explains Dr. Jana Yanová, Co-Founder and Medical Director at Concierge Medicine Europe:

"The Czech Republic traditionally has had quite a good infrastructure of specialists. Unfortunately, as the population ages, the total number of patients is increasing, waiting time for specialists is getting longer, and many specialist clinics have stopped taking in new patients. It sometimes takes many months to secure an appointment for chronic illness."

She adds that once a patient is in the care of a specialist, there are clear guidelines regarding treatment, but patients often feel deprived of quality time with their specialists. “When I speak to my patients, many complain that the doctor has very little time to spend with them, explain their illnesses to them, and motivate them to be actively involved in the management of their disease.”

These factors contribute to a healthcare system that is still more oriented towards medication as the primary mode of treatment and less towards encouraging lifestyle changes to affect illness, says Dr. Yanová.

Time-wise, it is much less consuming to prescribe a box of pills than to motivate your patient to exercise regularly, eat healthily, and actively participate in their disease management.”

Preventative medicine and lifestyle changes remain fundamental to optimal health, says Dr. Yanová, citing a study published in the scientific journal Circulation evaluating the impact of healthy lifestyle factors on life expectancies in the U.S. population: Adherence to five low-risk lifestyle-related factors (never smoking, healthy weight, regular physical activity, healthy diet, and moderate alcohol consumption) could prolong life expectancy at age 50 years by 14.0 years for female and 12.2 years for male adults compared with individuals who adopted zero low-risk lifestyle factors.

She sees encouraging changes among the younger generation, who are much more interested in and motivated to monitor their sleep and blood sugar. This is evidence of a shift toward “going upstream to avert disaster.” She points out that even those without diseases are going for regular preventive checkups, and many companies invest in their top management with comprehensive medical checkups.

This is not only about adding years but also adding healthy years and compressing morbidity/time at the end of life we live with illness.

In addition, the role of personalized precision medicine, which considers individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person, is starting to allow doctors to tailor both prevention and treatment to each individual specifically. 

Concierge Medicine offers a state-of-the-art manager check-up. In a 6-hour appointment, the patient is checked by a general practitioner, dermatologist, ophthalmologist, cardiologist, or radiologist and has a complete blood check, ultrasound of the abdomen, thyroid, heart, and carotid arteries, exercise stress test, screening of sleep apnea.

Dr. Yanova is the Country Representative of the European Lifestyle Medicine Organization for Czechia. She is also the co-founder and Medical Director of Concierge Medicine Europe. Her previous experience includes being Head Doctor and General Practitioner at a premium private medical clinic and assistant professor conducting research, teaching, and developing the curriculum at the Medical Faculty, at the University of Hong Kong.

This article was written in association with Concierge Medicine Europe. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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