We recently read the blog post “Improving access to medical technologies for diabetes care in Europe” from the International Diabetes Federation Europe assessing issues in terms of access to medical technologies for people with diabetes. As a producer of technologies and devices for people with diabetes, we keep learning and, when necessary, adapting our practices to fill in the gaps highlighted by IDF Europe.
What is currently done to provide the fullest information on devices for people with diabetes?
Today, companies make information widely available on-line to people with diabetes and their families/care givers to help facilitate understanding of how, for example an insulin pump can help better control blood glucose levels, as well as sharing of experiences of other people with diabetes using an insulin pump. These on-line channels include websites, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. Medtronic sponsors information evenings at local hospitals for doctors, nurses and people with diabetes to connect on new or different device therapy options. We work with diabetes associations to share information that is relevant to their stakeholders. Additional initiatives include on-line education modules open to the public to learn more about how a device works, non-branded websites with general therapy information and activity events for people with diabetes to learn more about their condition, how a device might help them better manage their diabetes and to share personal experiences and information. An example of a European-wide activity in this respect is the Medtronic Junior Cup: a football championship for children with diabetes. The event, of which the 7th edition will take place this year in the Netherlands, brings together young people with diabetes and their families and/or caregivers from different European countries.
Where is product, device information shared?
Most commonly such information is shared on-line, on websites, via social media and on-line forums, in compliance with the national legal frameworks regulating public information on medical devices. We are involved in various PR activities to get information into general or industry specific media to broaden awareness and decrease misperceptions. On demand, we provide healthcare professionals’ offices with printed documents for people with diabetes and their families/caregivers to take/read.
How could Medtronic make information more widely available?
We believe that sharing information more widely will root from establishing closer collaboration between diabetes associations and Medtronic. In addition, there is need for improvement and clarification in patient communication and information laws so people living with diabetes and their families/caregivers have fewer barriers to access information on devices.
What is Medtronic doing to make these technologies more accessible?
We are continuously developing studies to provide data on improved health outcomes and cost-effectiveness. In this respect, the positive impact of diabetes technologies on quality of life of people with diabetes and their families is also highlighted by Medtronic as an important argument with respect to improving access to diabetes devices and technologies (e.g. in studies, in discussions with healthcare authorities). In addition, we contribute to the development and implementation of HTA models/methodologies suitable for medical technology by means of providing expertise and information on new diabetes technologies (e.g. through contributing to industry dialogue with EUnetHTA).We also support initiatives involving other key stakeholders, in particular patients’ organisations, in access and HTA related discussions, for example HTA training and education programmes and the organisation of stakeholder debates aiming to discuss key access issues and challenges and agree on solutions.
What is priority: new device development or making current solutions accessible to a wider range?
Both. Innovation is key in the fight against diabetes and in offering people with diabetes and their families the best possible treatment and care; at the same time, by working with policymakers, regulators, payers, doctors, researchers, people with diabetes and other key stakeholders, Medtronic is trying to make diabetes technology widely accessible, for example through engaging with healthcare authorities to increase funding and apply for reimbursement.
Medtronic is working with healthcare authorities and hospitals to make organization and delivery of healthcare (including diabetes care) more efficient and sustainable. Initiatives in this area aim for example to use resources more efficiently and to improve affordability by reducing overall costs. Also, the development and implementation of remote and connected care solutions for people with diabetes is an important priority for Medtronic as ‘eHealth solutions’ have the potential to reach a very broad range of patients, improve care and quality of life, reduce costs and limit health inequalities.
What is Medtronic currently doing to educate patients and healthcare professionals?
Medtronic is developing continuous training and information programs for healthcare professionals in order to facilitate training on diabetes technology as well as diabetes care in general, for people with diabetes and their families. Different diabetes education tools are being developed, for example brochures, workbooks, interactive on-line training modules, online videos, websites, face-to-face courses, workshops, and congress symposia (e.g. IDF congress, annual EASD meeting). Together with other industry partners, Medtronic is supporting EU projects and initiatives addressing diabetes education and training needs of patients and healthcare professionals (e.g. the SWEET project).
What platforms could be used to educate as wide a public as possible?
Events involving people with diabetes, for example ‘self-help’ group meetings, sports events, education sessions organized in hospitals, diabetes youth camps. These events enable education through sharing of information and personal experiences.
Websites, social media are a powerful tool. In particular social media have been identified by people with diabetes as powerful information and education tools, because of the opportunity to communicate directly with other people with diabetes, raise questions, also with respect to using a diabetes technology (e.g an insulin pump).
World Diabetes Day or similar awareness days/events. In particular the World Diabetes Day events have proven an effective platform for informing and ‘educating’ other key stakeholders, policymakers in particular.
Platforms developed and/or provided by diabetes associations: websites, newsletters, social media. Diabetes associations can reach people with diabetes, their families and healthcare professionals in a targeted, responsible and credible manner.
Is there any research on the development of the education level of patients?
Questionnaires are being circulated to healthcare professionals/diabetes centers/clinics in order for them to evaluate the continuous training needs of people with diabetes and to adapt the training pathway accordingly. Questions raised by people with diabetes and feedback given to product helplines are being collected for further development of training material. A range of market research activities are initiated by Medtronic.
There’s more work to be done. We will continue to provide the best possible care and support for people with diabetes and their families and/or caregivers. But we are only one piece of the pie, and solutions to the gaps lie in listening and collaborating. We hear you. And we want to work with all stakeholders involved – patients, health care professionals, authorities and industry. Working together, we can make a difference.
– Annette Brüls, Vice-President Diabetes, Medtronic Western Europe & Canada
This blog is in reponse to International Diabetes Federations blog contribution “Improving access to medical technologies for diabetes care in Europe.”