Diabetes care is too fragmented and education gaps are rife, new report shows

More than half of diabetes patients believe that popular weight loss drugs alone may improve their health, according to a new report. At the same time, 42% of patients reported a life-threatening emergency arising from their diabetes.

The findings shed light on the gap between getting the right clinical care for managing patients’ conditions and expectations of how patients can improve their overall health. 

Chronic care management company CCS, in collaboration with independent market research firm PureSpectrum, surveyed more than 1,500 individuals living with Type 2 diabetes regarding challenges they face when it comes to managing their chronic disease. The survey also aimed to understand individual's attitudes as they relate to issues such as the growing demand for GLP-1 weight loss drugs and their relationships with providers.

While 57% of those surveyed believed that GLP-1 weight loss drugs could be a silver bullet for their condition, for example, 82% of the group reporting life-threatening emergencies said such incidents could be avoided if their condition were better supported.

“GLP-1 weight loss drugs alone are not a silver bullet when it comes to improving the health and well-being of those living with diabetes,” said Arti Masturzo, M.D., chief medical officer at CCS, in a statement. “These drugs do offer hope for those living with diabetes and others looking to manage obesity, but they should be prescribed in conjunction with hands-on personalized education and coaching, as well as the appropriate medical device technology needed to streamline diabetes self-management.”

As it is, 41% of those surveyed said they only see their diabetes clinician two to three times annually with 71% believing any organization they use for their diabetes care should be engaging with them between doctor visits.

Infrequent patient engagement and a lack of proper education and coaching can contribute to patients with diabetes facing dangerous and costly health issues. 

In addition, 36% of patients said they did not have the requisite tools and education to manage their condition when first diagnosed or when first taking care of their diabetes.

An overwhelming 94% of patients said they would like to also consistently engage with the supplier of their diabetes medication and equipment. Overstretched primary care providers provided 67% of the patients surveyed with the majority of their care, a number that isn't sustainable, Masturzo said.

“Primary care providers and diabetes-related specialists are doing a heroic job at managing the unprecedented demand for diabetes care, but they cannot- and should not—be responsible for all of it alone,” she said. “We need additional experienced players in the field to amplify their efforts in creative, coordinated, and engaging ways that reach people where they are.”

Approximately 38.4 million people in the U.S. live with Type 2 diabetes, and a further 97.6 million are termed prediabetic, raising their risk of adding to the 1.2 million new diabetes cases annually. Many patients come from underserved groups, including minorities and the homeless.

Historically a medical supplier, CCS has expanded its business into monitoring and coaching services for diabetes patients. CCS, which includes CCS Medical and CCS Health, combines its home-delivered medical supplies business with clinicians supported by proprietary data and technology to simplify the patient experience, Tony Vahedian, CEO of CCS, told Fierce Healthcare last year.

The company supports more than 200,000 patients living with chronic conditions in the U.S. and delivers more than 1.2 million shipments of medical supplies to patients in their own homes.