Chronic diseases are difficult to prevent and manage, but a niche specialization can set your practice apart and bring Ideal Patients to your door.
Nearly half of US adults (133 million) suffer from at least one serious health condition.
Chronic diseases account for 86% of annual healthcare costs in the U.S., and 71% of spending is for patients who have multiple conditions. In adults, chronic disease is responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths. (source: Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease).
Patients who experience a prolonged illness are seeking relief. They are more likely to seek help from a practitioner who truly understands their condition. Patients also want evidence that the treatment methods will actually help them — as opposed to unproven, ineffective methods such as those peddled by multi-level marketing companies).
For practitioners who own a business, a niche focus can make a big difference in the bottom line because it provides a clearly defined focus for a significant segment of the patients they want to serve.
Here are the most common chronic diseases, along with their frequency and annual costs in the United States:
1. Heart disease and stroke
Fatal to 859,000 Americans a year.
$199 billion a year in healthcare costs.
2. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
The third most common cause of death, diagnosed for 12 million Americans.
A total of 24 million people have impaired lung function. Direct and indirect costs of $50 billion annually.
3. Chronic kidney disease
Affects 47 million people.
Medicare spending is $52 billion a year.
A total of 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and it is deadly for 600,000 people.
Total costs will exceed $174 billion by the end of 2020.
Affects 30 million Americans. An additional 84 million have prediabetes, which puts them at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Cost is $237 billion a year.
Affects 1 in 3 American adults and 1 in 5 children.
Expense is $147 billion a year.
Suffered by 1 in 4 adults and is the leading cause of work disability.
Total costs are over $304 billion, with half for medical expenses and half from lost earnings.
8. Alzheimer’s disease
The 6th leading cause of death affects nearly 6 million Americans.
Costs are $215 billion and expected to rise to $500 billion a year by 2040.
Affects 3.5 million Americans.
Cost is $15.5 billion a year.
10. Tooth decay
Untreated cavities affect 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 children.
Dental-related Emergency Room costs $1.6 billion a year.
Affects 1 in 12 people, or 25 million in the US.
Cost (according to a 2013 study) exceeds $82 million a year.
Find out more about how to design a niche for your business:
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Grace LaConte is a business consultant, writer, workplace equity strategist, and the founder of LaConte Consulting. Her risk management tools are used around the globe, and she has successfully reversed toxic work environments for clients in the healthcare and non-profit fields. Grace specializes in lactation law compliance & policy development, reducing staff turnover after maternity leave, and creating a participatory work culture.