JDRF has published guidance to improve access to wearable medical technology for people with Type 1 diabetes. The report, from the charity’s Pathway to Choice programme, captures the barriers, motivations and opportunities voiced by the UK’s Type 1 diabetes community on access to tech.
Only a small proportion of people in the UK with Type 1 diabetes currently use the range of wearable medical devices available on the NHS, and the report’s findings indicate a variety of complex factors behind the barriers. They include:
- Education and access to information: JDRF’s research reveals a perception that healthcare professionals are often resource and time-limited. They report that Type 1 diabetes appointments – with various topics to cover – often allow little chance for a broader conversation about devices. When asked “what do you discuss with your (or your child’s) diabetes team?”, only 34 per cent of respondents replied “technology-based treatments” compared to 68 per cent answering “HbA1c levels” and 63 per cent answering “insulin types and doses.” When asked what area of Type 1 diabetes information they are keen to receive, the most popular answer (chosen by 48 per cent) was “blood glucose management and technology options.”
- Social-economic and financial: Just 18% of respondents from lower social-economic groups said they discuss technology at their clinician appointments, compared to 46% of the least deprived.
- Attitudinal and physical: The report reveals that people who are happy or satisfied with their current diabetes management are more reluctant to change and adapt to technology. Change symbolises risks that some are not willing to take. The physical appearance of the technology also has a strong influence for some, when it comes to choosing whether to use it.
In response to these findings, the report recommends ways to help remove barriers to awareness and access:
- People with Type 1 diabetes should have more time with specialist healthcare professionals at appointments.
- Healthcare professionals should receive mandatory training on Type 1 diabetes technology.
- Clinical Commissioning Groups should do more to reach people with Type 1 diabetes from lower socio-economic groups.
Karen Addington, Chief Executive of JDRF in the UK, said: “JDRF believes everyone who wants and would benefit from Type 1 diabetes technology should gain access to it.”
She added: “This report aims to understand the motivations and barriers people face in making treatment choices. These findings will enable us to explore the Types of support people need.”
JDRF’s Pathway to Choice programme is in partnership with Abbott’s Diabetes Care business, Dexcom, Insulet International Ltd and Roche Diabetes Care.
You can read the report here.
“Technology can be massively transformational”
Maureen McGinn explains how diabetes tech has changed her life
“I was diagnosed in 1990 and, for the first 20 years, my diabetes care wasn’t great. For years, I didn’t get to see the consultant, nor saw the same doctor twice, so I didn’t get anything out of these annual appointments and thought about having my GP manage my care.
“In 2010, the idea of insulin pumps was put to me in such a negative light that I didn’t even consider one. Then in 2013, I met several people talking about them more positively, so in April 2014 I went back to my consultant and asked for one – his reaction, however, was that my condition was not bad enough to warrant one on the NHS.
“Luckily someone I knew helped me get an appointment at a different clinic, and I was told straight away I could have a pump because I lived alone, experienced significant blood glucose variability and had a fear of hypoglycaemia.
“The fact that these other, more holistic factors were considered made all the difference and the flexibility a pump has given me has now changed my life.
“My new, proactive and forward-thinking team also gave me access to Facebook groups, which meant I was now in touch with online communities for the first time.
“There needs to be more awareness of the research and the improvements that technology can bring to Type 1 care.
“There is an impression that tech is for certain types of people, but I think technology can be massively transformational for anyone. A year after my pump, the nurse admitted that her first impression was that I wouldn’t get on too well with one.
“If I hadn’t been able to get the pump, I would have continued to become more and more disengaged. Now I feel part of a community, which is a massive support.”
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