Want to rethink healthcare? Start with diabetes

  • Posted on 03.10.2018

Want to rethink healthcare? Start with diabetes


Tanja Valentin

Director External Affairs, MedTech Europe


Diabetes is the healthcare challenge of our times – let’s make it a role model for a new kind of care

We know that millions of Europeans are living with diabetes and that millions more will be diagnosed in the years ahead. We know this will put huge pressure on health services, as well on the wider economy and social structures.

We know too that if healthcare delivery is to become more sustainable, fresh thinking is needed. That’s why I think it is important to take a positive view of the diabetes challenge by looking at it as an ideal field for piloting new approaches to healthcare.

I believe there are reasons for optimism. The diabetes sector has delivered devices and diagnostic kits that unlock the power of information about, and control of, blood glucose levels. For example, the prospect of a closed loop artificial pancreas is becoming a reality.

Diabetes is a big, complex challenge that brings together the urgent need for innovative solutions with technologies – from the medical and other sectors – that can help to solve the problem.

Missing piece of the puzzle

The missing piece of the puzzle is a formula for calculating the value of innovative technologies in this space. To figure out how to value innovative products and processes, we need to know the cost of any intervention (as well as the cost of doing nothing), the benefit of treatment, and the role played by each component of the treatment pathway.

The MedTech Europe Diabetes Sector Group is committed to working on answering this question. Only by engaging with patients, carers, health professionals, payers and policymakers can we hope to capture the true value of well-managed diabetes.

That is why we commissioned a series of interviews with thought leaders in the field of diabetes and value-based healthcare. Reading this collection, three things stood out:

  • Professor Muir Gray, Director of Better Value Healthcare and previously Chief Knowledge Officer at the NHS, was clear that value-based healthcare is the future. However, he offered crucial insights on how to embed it in universal health systems with finite budgets.
  • Kyle Jacques Rose, Board Member of IDF Europe, helped us to understand the cognitive burden that comes with a chronic condition like diabetes which demands active input from patients. Imagine the potential we would unlock if we lighten this load.
  • Professor Allan Flyvbjerg of the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen and Dr Henk Veeze from the Diabeter clinic in Rotterdam gave us a glimpse of the future. Through their ground-breaking work they have shown how focusing on patient outcomes can deliver value for patients but is also a massive cost-saver.

As we continue to explore how value-based healthcare can transform diabetes, we hope to broaden the conversation even further. In my opinion, it is essential that we look at the indirect socioeconomic impact of interventions in this area. We need to know how well-managed diabetes affects the economy by unlocking productivity and reducing the burden on patients and their families. Think of children whose education is not held back by their condition; adults who need fewer sick days and are free to progress in their careers; sports stars who can reach their full potential; and grandparents with the energy and good health to play with the next generation.

The MedTech Europe Diabetes Sector Group is committed to real dialogue with all parties as we move together to make necessary systemic change. For our part, the industry will continue to focus on providing solutions that patients and other stakeholders need in order to improve lives and make healthcare fit for the future. I would like to thank those who have already joined the dialogue.

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