Diabetes has become a worldwide epidemic. According to data recently published by the Brussels-based International Diabetes Federation, by 2040 more than 642 million people worldwide will suffer from diabetes, up from 415 million in 2015, the last year for which the organization has statistics. In North America, this figure is expected to jump from the current 30 million cases to around 41 million.
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In the United States, nearly 30 million have diagnosed cases of diabetes, and estimates show that as many as another 9 million more are unaware they have the condition. As a result, products and services to monitor and control diabetes have become a key part of community pharmacies’ home care offerings and are expected to become even more crucial going forward.
Diabetes advocates like the American Diabetes Association and IDF said the expected spike in the prevalence of diabetes around the globe will make easy access to diagnostic and testing equipment critical. And, they note, because an estimated 40% of adults with Type 2 diabetes do not know they have the condition, millions of people are putting themselves at risk of other health problems, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, and kidney failure.
All told, they said, diabetes accounts for nearly $250 billion in healthcare costs in the United States and $673 billion, or 12% of all healthcare spending, around the world.
While medical experts said the best option for patients, who may feel they have diabetes, is to go to a doctor, over-the-counter diabetes test kits can go a long way to helping people manage the condition. Recent advances in technology that have made these devices easier to use and more accurate have made home testing an ideal complement to physician care, they said. In addition to home testing and seeing a physician, a growing number of retail clinics are offering diabetes screenings. CVS Pharmacy’s MinuteClinic, Walgreens’ Healthcare Clinics and Kroger’s The Little Clinic are just three of the retail operators that offer screenings for diabetes in their walk-in health centers.
Executives said patients who rely on retail clinics for diabetes care are often disconnected from the healthcare system.
“Of those patients who come into the clinics, 56% don’t have a primary care doctor,” Little Clinic director of patient-centered strategies Cathleen McKnight noted during a presentation at The American Journal of Managed Care’s Patient-Centered Diabetes Care forum last spring. At that same event, CVS Health senior educator Kristene Diggins said a clinic in a retail setting allows nurse practitioners and pharmacists to work together to help counsel patients on drug therapy and drive medication compliance.
“Forty percent of chronic disease medications are never refilled,” Diggins said, noting that in many cases diabetes does not present any symptoms, and patients do not understand what their medications do.
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