August 18, 2015

Diabetes : A digitally enabled care pathway to transform diabetic care

Make diabetic care a top NHS priority

Yesterday’s headlines have been dominated by diabetes and the release of frightening statistics which suggest that the prevalence has reached an all-time high. The number of people living with diabetes has soared by almost 60% in the past decade to over 3 million, and what is equally worrying is that 90% of these cases are type 2 which are arguably linked to lifestyle factors.

The NHS has said that it is time to tackle poor lifestyle choices such as inadequate exercise and unhealthy diets which are leading causes in the substantial rise in type 2 diabetes. The illness can result in visual impairment, heart disease and there are also a record number of diabetic patients undergoing amputations.  Such effects are largely caused by a lack of education in patients, who don’t have the tools they need to manage their diabetes in an effective way which avoids complications.

Diabetes is a particularly expensive to treat. The condition has an enormous financial burden of almost £10 billion on the NHS and accounts for 10% of the entire NHS drug bill.

Getting to the bottom of the problem is indeed the best place to start but so much more can be done to improve current care pathways to prevent these devastating consequences. Poorly managed cases of diabetes are leading to costs spiralling out of control therefore it is evident the NHS needs to get a grip of this now.

Improving diabetic care in the UK should be a top priority

Designing self-management care pathways should be a relatively straight forwards process. Digital technology can enhance current care pathways by including automated phone calls, text messaging for example in conjunction with the simple process of testing blood glucose levels using a device.

So why aren’t we using technology to enhance diabetic care? Is it because there’s a fear it might create too much data? Or is it that integration into clinical systems isn’t widely available? When it comes to cost, a service such as this should be priced accordingly. Changing simple elements of care pathways isn’t complicated and companies shouldn’t be therefore charging vast amount sums for it. A simple yet effective model should cost just a few pounds per patient per year.

With a record number of diabetic cases, the government need to act fast and provide people with the power, technology and knowledge to self-manage their condition. Whilst there’s more that can be done around preventing the illness in the first place, technology has a large part to play. Digital health can be used to provide a long-term, cost effective solution that gives patients the best support possible.

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