Claus Møldrup, DrugsDisclosed.com Founder and Former Professor in Social Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen, turns the spotlight on diabetes and explores how to improve patient wellbeing and national health outcomes
Over 400 million people are living with diabetes around the world – this accounts for approximately one in 11 of the world’s adult population. (1) This global health crisis and lifelong condition has been further compounded for many during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a recent study, people with diabetes are more likely to experience serious symptoms from COVID-19. Adding to this, strict lockdown measures have made it harder for some people to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Worryingly, even in non-diabetic patients, hyperglycaemia could be an indicator of a greater risk of mortality in COVID-19 patients. (2)
It is clear that people with diabetes need the support of healthcare professionals and policy-makers more than ever to overcome the hardships associated with the condition. Healthcare bodies need a long-term strategy that is informed by real patient experiences.
How patients feel about their treatments
New research on Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) including 4,342 people living with diabetes, (3) reveals that a significant majority (89%) of people with diabetes in the UK, Ireland and the Nordics express that they are satisfied with their current treatments. Yet despite the high level of reported satisfaction, over a third (38%) of these patients experience long-term blood sugar levels (HbA1c) that are too high or too low and almost half (46%) experience fluctuating blood sugar levels.
The disconnect between reported medication satisfaction and health outcomes needs to be addressed. Patients who are listened to and feel in control of their treatment can better advise healthcare practitioners of any improvements or worsening of their conditions. Empowered patients who are actively involved in their treatment plan may also be more likely to make better lifestyle decisions to help manage their diabetes.
Challenges facing the diabetic community
Four in 10 (40%) of people with diabetes say their condition negatively affects their quality of life. There is a very real and present patient detriment when this condition is not managed properly.
Worryingly, 60% of people with diabetes have reported neglecting their health. People living with diabetes are acutely aware that the decisions they make regarding diet and exercise can have long-lasting effects on their condition. But like many patients, they don’t want to be constantly reminded that they need to restrict their behaviour to help manage their condition. This is the core challenge when it comes to supporting the diabetic community to make long-term better health decisions.
Empowering and engaging patients
Healthcare bodies need to listen to patients, not just in a clinical setting, but regularly and consistently in real life. By truly listening to people as they go through their normal activities, we can then provide the necessary improvements to enhance treatments, advise on lifestyle changes and, ultimately, improve the quality of life for people living with diabetes.
A more effective treatment plan will differ per patient, but DrugsDisclosed.com discovered interesting medication trends that could support a change in how healthcare providers prescribe medicine. Based on 16,699 Medicine Experience and Attitude (MEA) reviews directly from people living with Type 2 Diabetes, many older treatments are underperforming compared to their newer, often more expensive, counterparts ￼. (4) This was particularly true for patients with Type 2 diabetes. GLP-1 analogues had a much more positive reaction from an everyday patient perspective than older medicines, including the popular metformin.
By regularly tracking how patients respond to their treatment plans, both with clinical data such as HbA1c levels, quality of life, self-efficacy and general experience with the medications, we can not only improve healthcare communication but empower people living with diabetes to better inform healthcare professionals about their experiences. Better information, shared with the relevant healthcare professionals, will help people around the world improve how we manage this increasingly common condition.
(3) DrugsDisclosed.com Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROM) research was conducted among 4,382 patients suffering from Type 1, Type ½ and Type Two diabetes in the UK, Ireland and the Nordics.
(4) DrugsDisclosed.com Medicine Experience & Attitude Index: https://www.drugsdisclosed.com/mea-index/diabetes-type-2
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