Meridiano Cardio’s Paper “CARDIO-, CEREBRAL-, AND VASCULAR DISEASES A PUBLIC HEALTH PRIORITY: The Importance and Urgency of Having a National Plan” – presented at the Italian Senate

Cardio, cerebral and vascular diseases are among the leading causes of death and disability in Europe. In Italy alone, over 9.6 million people suffer from these diseases, which account for 30% of deaths among those over 70. Additionally, the socio-economic burden is staggering with the healthcare system spending approximately 19-24 billion euros annually, including 14-16 billion in direct healthcare costs and 5-8 billion in indirect healthcare and non-healthcare-related costs., e.g., due to lost productivity both of the patient and the caregiver, as well as social security and welfare costs.

These data and information have been shared during the press conference introducing the Parliamentary Intergroup on Cardio, Cerebral and Vascular Diseases held in the Italian Senate on February 21, 2023 thanks to the initiative of Senator Elena Murelli. The Parliamentary intergroup’s intent is to collect knowledge that will be later shared with the Italian Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, towards a Ministerial working table in collaboration with Scientific Societies, patient Associations, and stakeholders to develop a National Plan for these diseases.

The proposal for a National Plan is further supported by the Meridiano Cardio group working paper titled “Cardio, Cerebral and Vascular Diseases – A Public Health Priority. The Importance and Urgency of Having a National Plan”. The paper, supported by Amgen, Edwards Lifesciences, Alliance BMS-Pfizer, and W.L. Gore & Associates, has been developed over the years and addresses the complexities of the issue. The paper highlights the following priorities:

• Primary and secondary prevention, connected to early diagnosis;

• Patient involvement and empowerment;

• Adherence of pathways;

• Access to technological and pharmacological innovation;

• Continuity of care-integration between care settings;

• Digital health and the role of telemedicine.

Furthermore, during the press conference held in February 2023, experts emphasized the importance of considering both cost and social value. In Italy, procurement processes often prioritize the cost of individual therapies or technology rather than their value over the entire care pathway. This can lead to delays in accessing and implementing innovative treatments. Considering the centrality of the theme given the NRP, panellists echoed the importance of the physician-patient bond and the necessity to have personalized approach to care. This should also consider an efficient integrated network system across diverse hospital facilities, and within the same hospital.

They also discussed the importance of learning about new technologies, especially digital health care, and the need to update DRGs (diagnosis-related groups) accordingly. DRGs must be updated to reflect the current value of costs and plan for reinvesting in innovation to trigger a dynamic mechanism. The full paper prepared by the Working Group of Meridiano Cardio is available for viewing here