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Innovative osteoporosis services: tackling treatment gaps in patient care

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    People with osteoporosis are at risk of fractures which can have a major impact on quality of life. Following a hip fracture, 40% of people cannot walk independently and 80% cannot perform basic tasks such as shopping on their own.

    To reduce the negative impact of fractures, Fracture Liaison Services (FLS) were introduced in the UK in the 1990s and are now offered in more than 35 countries. With demand for osteoporosis care rising as populations age, now is a good time to reflect on how the FLS model has changed patient care. In the first of a series of thought leader articles by UCB personnel, in partnership with the Health Europa journal, we look at the future of fracture prevention.

    On the whole, the introduction of FLS has ushered in a period of significant progress in osteoporosis management. By coordinating care among multiple players, the frequency of subsequent fractures has been reduced and adherence to treatment has improved. The FLS approach also delivers cost savings – a vital feature of future osteoporosis services given the need for achieving sustainability while maintaining quality.

    However, there is still room for improvement. Patient understanding of fracture risks can be low, with some attributing fractures to environment risks, random events or ageing. Healthcare professionals sometimes tend to take a passive approach to managing at-risk patients, rather than proactively engaging with women aged over 60, for example.

    Awareness of, and referral to, FLS is also suboptimal. If patients with fragility fractures are not referred to FLS or secondary care setting, their risk of subsequent fractures is higher. Addressing this treatment gap is vital to reducing the burden on individuals and health systems.
     
    Greater public awareness of fragility fractures and their warning signs will go some way to raising these issues to national and global discussion. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the FLS, it’s time to reflect on the achievements made to date but also to reinvigorate our collective commitment to patients, helping to protect them from future fractures and so make their first fracture, their last fracture.

    For UCB, contributing our expertise to this important debate is an important part of our efforts to improve the lives of people affected by osteoporosis.

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