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Osteoporosis care: bringing innovation to those that will benefit the most

Scott Fleming, Global Communications & Company Reputation
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Scott Fleming, Global Communications & Company Reputation

Innovation drives our search for new therapies that bring value to patients. However, for innovative treatments to have maximum impact on patient care, they must be readily available to those who need them most.

In the third of a series of thought leader articles by UCB personnel, in partnership with the Health Europa journal, we look at the adoption of innovation in osteoporosis care and management. Our goal is to ensure that the needs of the growing number of people at risk of fractures are highlighted.

Consider the fact: almost half of patients who suffer an osteoporotic hip fracture have experienced a previous osteoporotic fracture, but most of these patients did not receive treatment that could have reduced their risk of hip fracture. This represents a significant missed opportunity to prevent painful broken bones that can impact quality of life.

Innovation should focus on early diagnosis and prevention of future fractures; too many patients remain undiagnosed and untreated today, disconnected from the healthcare professionals who can help manage their disease, meaning they remain at risk of fractures that can lead to disability, loss of quality of life, and premature death.

The risk of fragility fractures rises with age, making osteoporosis care a priority for the future. As populations age, it will become increasingly important to ensure that older people have access to the services and care they need to stay healthy.

Some healthcare professionals are concerned by the level of access to innovation in osteoporosis. Research conducted by UCB, showed that over a quarter (28%) of bone specialists rated the level of innovation in osteoporosis as below average or poor and, they agreed that health systems are not doing enough to support. If we continue on this path, millions of people risk missing out on an acceptable quality of later life as they age. Ageing is inevitable, but how we age is not.

Of course, innovation is not all about new therapies or technologies. Innovative models of service delivery play a vital role in fracture prevention. A few years ago, we saw a welcome shift in the way osteoporosis is managed with the implementation of the Fracture Liaison Service (FLS). Best practices like the FLS have already undergone rigorous improvement over time, and their benefit is already widely acknowledged. More uptake of these services will provide solutions to the disconnect between patient and healthcare professional.

In addition to best practice processes like an FLS program, patients and physicians alike could benefit from a more individualized approach to treating and monitoring osteoporosis and fracture risk. The availability of reliable biomarkers also promises to make fracture prevention more effective and personal.

Looking ahead, using artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to analyse bone scans could help to identify patients susceptible to future fractures and lead to more effective clinical intervention, ultimately driving towards reducing the co-morbidities associated with osteoporosis.  

For our part, UCB is working to advance osteoporosis management and fracture prevention. We will continue to strive to deliver value to patients by developing new therapies and embracing the latest technologies. It is vital that patients have access to these new tools if we are to tackle healthy ageing together.