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In New Survey, People With Diabetes Report Difficulty Tracking, Potential of Technology

The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES) recently announced the results of a national survey that uncovered people living with diabetes are challenged by tracking information related to their condition over time. The survey found that while 65% of respondents report they’re doing everything they possibly can to manage their diabetes, just as many (67%) feel guilty about not doing a better job. The national survey was supported by Sanofi US.

More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes, and for those who take insulin—and have been trained on the self-adjustment of doses—blood glucose readings offer the opportunity to address out-of-range levels. The survey showed that people living with diabetes who track their insulin use recognize the importance of looking back at their data over time, but nearly two-thirds agree it would be more helpful if there were better tools for doing it. When citing the most common challenges they’ve had in tracking their insulin use over a month’s time, 62% of respondents reported being too busy to log and/or forgetting to log their insulin use.

“The management of diabetes is complex and so deeply personal that people living with diabetes often need to make drastic changes to their lifestyle, relearning their body’s needs at the most basic level,” says Lorena Drago, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES, a multicultural nutrition education expert. “Since the changes people make can impact every area of their lives, I understand why respondents may feel that they are doing all that they can to manage their diabetes while at the same time still believing they are still not doing enough. The complex nature of managing diabetes presents an opportunity for health care professionals to personalize diabetes management. One way to personalize diabetes management is to collect useful diabetes information automatically in one place.”

While there are several methods available to manage diabetes information, including tracking glucose levels and insulin use, there’s still room for improvement, noted by the following survey findings:

• Among people who track their blood glucose levels with a blood glucose monitor or continuous glucose monitor, 47% feel their current method of tracking glucose levels is simple and easy to do, while also wishing it was even more simple and easy to do.
• Similarly, among people who currently track their insulin use, 45% agree that looking back at their insulin use and how it impacts their glucose levels is easy to do, but they still desire it to be easier.
• When considering what could make tracking their diabetes information easier, the survey revealed people living with diabetes wish all their data were put together automatically so they could see everything they need in one place (82%). In particular, the vast majority of respondents (more than 80%) believe a device that connects to an insulin pen, automatically tracks/records insulin use, and wirelessly sends the information to an app on a smartphone or tablet would be helpful in more effectively managing their diabetes.

“Given the personal nature of diabetes, and the constant management needed, these data truly underscore the challenges people face in tracking and managing diabetes information. These data also show the potential benefits of integrating technology into the care routines of people living with diabetes,” says Kellie Antinori-Lent, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, BC-ADM, CDCES, FADCES, president of ADCES. “My goal as a diabetes care and education specialist is to help overcome the challenges of managing diabetes, and it’s my belief that tools that automate this process may not only improve the individual’s understanding of their condition but can inform care providers in efficient patient management.”

Measuring glucose accurately and logging insulin data is the first step in the well-being and care of a person living with diabetes. The potential benefits of a device that automatically brings diabetes data together for people living with diabetes range from having better conversations with their providers and health care teams to improving the accuracy of managing or tracking insulin use. Specifically, respondents of the survey living with diabetes would find such a device helpful in doing the following:

• giving them a more personalized understanding of their diabetes (79%);
• making managing or tracking insulin use less time-consuming (78%); and
• making them feel more empowered when it comes to managing diabetes (75%).

“These findings highlight the ongoing need to provide support to people living with diabetes,” says Rogelio Braceras, MD, North America medical head of general medicines at Sanofi. “We are proud to be collaborating with ADCES to better understand this population’s unmet needs and bring them to the forefront to inform and ultimately help advance personalized care for people living with diabetes.”

The national survey was conducted by a market research firm in June and July 2020 and included more than 700 American adults living with type 1 or 2 diabetes who take insulin. All respondents were taking insulin that was administered with a vial/syringe or pen regularly for at least six months. Respondents weren’t excluded if they delivered their insulin via an insulin pump or if they also used inhaled insulin.

— Source: Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists