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Insulin Safety Week 2024: Insights from PPP’s Diabetes Care Programme

Following the conclusion of Insulin Safety Week 2024, PPP Content Executive, Navodi Kuruppu, discusses some of themes explored so far in PPP's 2024 Diabetes Care Programme.

By Navodi Kuruppu

Taking insulin is one of the most important steps in the care routine of someone with diabetes. A wide range of resources is available for people with diabetes to ensure they take their insulin doses correctly. However, errors in administering insulin are common, among both patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs). In addition to insulin, some patients also rely on advanced technologies like continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and hybrid closed loop (HCL) systems to support their wellbeing. To make full and correct use of these devices, both patients and clinicians must be fully educated on their use.

Last week marked Insulin Safety Week, a campaign aiming to highlight and reduce insulin errors among patients and the healthcare profession and raise awareness of insulin safety within the healthcare community. This year’s theme was the safe use of diabetes technology such as CGM and HCLs.

Public Policy Projects (PPP) focused on these themes throughout the first part of our Diabetes Care 2024 programme, System wide strategies for better diabetes care, chaired by Professor Partha Kar, National Specialty Advisor for Diabetes at NHS England. With the support of more than 150 healthcare experts, PPP has focused on gathering insights and building recommendations on the key role played by diabetes technology for type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) insulin users, and the importance of extensive education around its use, both for patients and HCPs.


What is insulin and what is the role of technology in diabetes care?

Insulin is the hormone produced by our bodies that supports the management of blood glucose levels and individuals with diabetes are unable to produce this hormone or regulate its levels. For this reason, everyone with T1D, and some with T2D, must take insulin. The medication comes as a liquid, which can be injected using a pen or a needle, or it can be released into the body using an HCL.1

Organisations like Diabetes UK and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) provide resource to those with diabetes in need of support, including peer support forums, free information packs and guides for parents and carers. Despite the available resources, getting the dosages right can be a tricky task for both for patients and HCPs. A study from 2024 found that around 20 per cent of people with T2D stop using basal insulin (used to control blood glucose levels) within the first 6 months of initiation of treatment. By 12 months, the number increases to 34 per cent and by 18 months it rises to 37 per cent.2 Poor adherence is a major challenge for the well-being of these patients, caused by various factors including fear of side effects, dosing difficulties, fear of needles, injection techniques and the various lifestyle impacts caused by the treatment regime.3,4

PPP’s System wide strategies for better diabetes care programme has provided stakeholders the opportunity to learn extensively from experts in the field on the key role of diabetes technology in the improvement of diabetes care management.

Some key insights gathered so far include:

  • Diabetes technologies like CGM and HCL devices have been shown to improve quality of life for diabetes patients and their families.
  • These technologies help reduce the risk of developing costly complications by enabling better and proactive glucose management, as well as enabling greater patient empowerment, choice and self-care.
  • CGM is hugely beneficial to people with T2D who use insulin, as evidenced by NICE guidelines, as well as examples from clinicians where people have made behavioural changes after seeing real-time data on the impact of their treatment.
  • There are other groups of people with T2D who might stand to benefit from CGM in the shorter-term, such as people who are newly diagnosed, undergoing pharmaceutical intensification, people awaiting surgery and the elderly.

To learn more about this, read our reports:

The role of diabetes technology was further discussed at our first Diabetes Care Conference held on 27th June 2024. The panel discussion, Using data to improve health inequalities to produce better outcomes, featured five speakers: one from primary care, one from an integrated care board, two industry representatives and Michael Lawrence, a T2D insulin user. Michael was able to provide a firsthand glimpse into the use of diabetes technology and insulin, and demonstrated how CGM transformed his life. When asked about the potential burden of receiving too much information when using CGM, Michael responded: “The greater burden, I think, is finger prick testing multiple times. But with CGM, the data is presented really well, which is really helpful for managing my diabetes.”

The chair of the panel NHS England Clinical work lead for diabetes Naresh Kanumilli commented: “Nowadays, there is a lot of technology going around. However, it’s essential for everyone involved to use technology appropriately to fully harness its benefits. We must be mindful about the responsibility this entails.”

Insulin Safety Week goes beyond just discussing insulin administration. It also aims to cover the broader spectrum of advancements in diabetes care. Among the sponsors of this campaign are Dexcom and Sanofi, two companies playing a significant role within diabetes management.

Last month, PPP spoke with Shay Speakman-Brown, Head of Market Access at Dexcom, and Michael Lawrence, a CGM user and part of Dexcom’s Warrior programme. They discussed the transformative impact that CGM technology can have on individuals with diabetes, as well as on the wider healthcare system. This was an opportunity to directly listen to a patient’s personal story, how advanced diabetes technology has changed their life, the indirect challenges they face and what improvements could be made to improve access to technology for individuals with T2D individuals.

Read our article here.

PPP also had the privilege of hosting a Sanofi workshop at the Diabetes Care Conference, which focused on raising awareness about diabetes among Black men and highlighting the consequences of delayed diagnosis. The conversation also touched on the importance of representation, noting that many Black men do not see people who looked like them when they were first diagnosed. One participant, who has a podcast, and another, an aspiring musician, expressed their hopes of using their platforms to educate others about diabetes.


 

Next steps

PPP will further explore these topics in the second part of our Diabetes Care Programme, Holistic approaches to diabetes care: treating the whole patient, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for a holistic approach to care that treats the ‘whole’ patient and not just their diabetes. We will create insights and strategies for holistic approaches to diabetes management and long-term conditions and address questions including:

  • How can systems balance personalisation and population health management at scale, while meeting the individual needs of people?
  • What role can technology, data and digital play in reducing inequalities for those with the highest needs?
  • What innovations are game changers and are they sustainable?
  • How do we develop our prevention and risk ‘lens’, to break down siloed disease working and ensure that cardio, renal, and metabolic conditions are joined up effectively within the health and care system?
  • Where are the overlaps within the multi-morbid patient population and how can we create a one-stop shop in the community?
  • How significant is genetic predisposition in causing diabetes compared to dietary and environmental factors?

If your organisation would like to learn more about getting involved in this innovative programme then please contact Ameneh.saatchi@publicpolicyprojects.com to find out more.

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