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Diabetes, 41% fewer diagnoses due to Covid. New help from telemedicine

I am 4.2 million in Italy people who find themselves managing a form of diabetes, about 8.2% of the adult population.

As unfortunately happened for many other pathologies, also for diabetes the period that coincided with lockdown last year’s general determined a abrupt slowdown in diagnoses, targeted treatments and follow-up visits.

To say this, a research carried out by Sanofi with IQVIA, based on data from Real World (RWD) and on interviews with a panel of diabetologists, in which an attempt was made to evaluate the impact that Covid-19 has had in the management of the disease , to then identify the major critical issues and understand how to deal with them.

An urgency that is more relevant than ever, also in light of the fact that in 2021 the 100 years since the discovery of insulin.

Diagnostic delays during the 2020 lockdown

The survey revealed how between March and May 2020, the restrictions imposed on medical examinations and the fear of patients to go to wards and clinics, has led to significant delays in the new diagnosis, which turned out to be the 41% less than in the same months of 2019. Identical scenario for the initiation of new treatments (-36%), the carrying out of the first visits (-66%) and follow-up (-56%).

Fortunately, starting from the second half of 2020 one registered progressive recovery diagnosis and visits, which throughout the second half of the year remained in line with or just above the pre-pandemic levels, up to exceeding the levels of 2019 in the first half of 2021.

In the face of these latest encouraging data, however, there is a segment which currently still struggling to catch up: that of contacts with patients for specialist visits and of follow up, a crucial aspect for monitoring the treatments and correct lifestyles of diabetics, but unfortunately stopped at -23%.

Less capacity of medical spaces, fears and other factors still make it difficult to guarantee them in a capillary way but in order not to lengthen the times an alternative could lie in virtual meetings, already tested in recent months and which represent the starting point for developing new patient management models, which integrate outpatient visits with those remotely.

The new models of patient care

The difficulty in accessing visits during the pandemic has indeed pushed 99% of diabetologists to share clinical exams and monitor therapies and health conditions via telephone, whatsapp and email. The patients were mostly young (21% under 40) but a good response was also found in the 40 – 64 age group (18%) and, albeit to a lesser extent, in the over 63 (13%).

Although it was not a shared system but mostly spontaneous and individual initiatives, the way to give life to a more structured project seems to have been traced, as hoped for by 61% of diabetologists.

«The pandemic was an opportunity to emphasize opportunities that telemedicine can offer in all its facets, from televisions to telemonitoring and teleconsulting. – points out Stefano Genovese, Head of the Diabetology, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases Unit at the Monzino IRCCS Cardiology Center and member of EGIDE (Expert Group for Integrated Care and Digital Health Europe) – To guarantee equity of access to care, which unfortunately is not fully implemented today, I believe we must focus on the creation of service centers that manage at 360 ° the needs of patients, through a system of care that involves all health professionals who deal with chronic diseases such as diabetes, and which also provides for the support of devices “.

Many clinics and hospitals are already equipping themselves with digital workstations and platforms and the hope is that this is only a first step towards a medicine that is increasingly in line with the times.

Other stories of Vanity Fair that may interest you:

Type 1 diabetes mellitus: what it is and how not to experience it with embarrassment

Diabetes, 8 rules to prevent it

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