Covid-19 – A catalyst for digital disruption in diabetes care

International Diabetes Federation

What a roller coaster the last few months have been, a world defined through the lens of a global COVID Pandemic!

Deep cracks in health inequalities have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic; we have seen the evidence that people living with diabetes have been shown to be more at risk of the complications of COVID with increased mortality rates.

Additionally, people with complications of diabetes were disadvantaged when elective care was shut down and outpatient appointments were cancelled. As we know, people with diabetes are at increased risk of cardiovascular events, blindness, amputations, and kidney failure. Lack of access to services comes with significant risks to personal, social and economic wellbeing.

As we move into the recovery and restoration of health services, I believe it is vital that we look at what worked and harness the innovative new ways to access services to create a healthier world for people living with diabetes.

The pandemic has shown us that the inherent fragility of health systems can, and should be, addressed though the digital transformation of care, with an increased focus on prevention and health promotion.

In my opinion, a new paradigm is needed to develop stronger health systems able to address the needs of people living with diabetes and those at risk. Digital disruption will challenge most aspects of traditional diabetes care models, at all stages of the diabetes journey, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and self-management.

We need a vision for digitally-enabled diabetes care in Europe. The current model is unsustainable. Look at the numbers: 60 million people are living with diabetes in the European Region and that figure is rising rapidly.

Medical devices, apps, electronic patient records, data analytics, telemedicine, to name but a few, are redefining diabetes care, in the process, improving the lives of people with diabetes, alleviating the pressure on health systems, and reducing costs.

I take the opportunity of MedTech Week 2020 to highlight the need to advocate for more digital health that leaves no one behind. I call for integrated care that places the individual at the centre, focusing on the strengthening of primary care, and the use of technology to connect and transform health services.

Together with healthcare professionals, policymakers, and industry representatives I am confident we can reach a better future for people with diabetes.

Dr Niti Pall, Regional Chair Europe, International Diabetes Federation

Dr Niti Pall joined the board of IDF European Region in 2009 and is currently the Chair of IDF Europe. Dr Niti Pall is a visionary senior clinician who combines clinical practice with an entrepreneurial edge to design and deliver new models of health care using an open, inclusive and creative style to raise investment and ensure buy in from teams.