The President of the Austrian Association of Dietitians Andrea Hofbauer warns:
If the integration of Dietitians in the new structures of primary health care is not defined by law, opportunities to a huge cost savings potential will be lost. Integration of Dietitians can save the health care system millions! The results of a Dutch study supports this statement.
In the Austrian health care reform law of 2013 it was determined that in-patient care should be relieved and out-patient care should be expanded. Health care NEW must be adapted to the needs of patients and this can be achieved by enhanced primary care (Primary Health Care) in an out-patient setting. Following the principle of "Best Point of Service", the establishment of multidisciplinary teams is one of the prerequisites for this.
Prof. Andrea Hofbauer, president of the Association of Dietitians of Austria, expressed in a press release in April 2014, "In all European countries, where primary health care is already well established, dietitians are an integral part of the teams. These professionals are well trained in the area of prevention as well as in nutritional therapy in case of disease." Hofbauer also said "It’s not just about the best possible care for patients and the purposeful, efficient implementation of proven & effective preventive and therapeutic measures, but also about a significant cost-reducing effect, which is required by law."
A Dutch study proves the enormous savings potential as a result of treatment by dietitians. Better health of the population ultimately brings positive economic benefits, such as a decrease in absenteeism in the workplace and an increase in efficiency and productivity. These advantages of professional advice by dietitians can be expressed in figures. As in the example from the Netherlands: The dietetic treatment of overweight individuals (BMI > 25) with additional risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure and / or blood lipids brings within five years, savings 0.4 to 1.9 billion Euros.
In summary, Dietitians can contribute significantly to achieve the legally required health savings without sacrificing quality! They work together with patients, providing individual strategies for a sustainable lifestyle change and thus increase the quality of life. An integration of dietitians in Primary Health Care benefits all.
Prof. Andrea Hofbauer, MSc, MBA, President
Trudy Giesinger, Delegate
Austrian Association of Dietitians