“Unfortunately, the trendline with diabetes is just one way, and that’s up,” said Orion Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Chris Hobson. Healthcare providers and patients have been fighting this disease that has reached epidemic proportions worldwide.
What is diabetes, and what causes it?
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that affects at least 10% of the US population and occurs when there is an absolute lack of insulin (type 1) or a relative insulin deficiency (type 2). Type 1 diabetes is frequently a genetic disease that develops early in life. There is currently no cure, and patients must regularly monitor their blood sugar levels and take insulin.
The development of type 2 diabetes occurs gradually. It is associated with lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese, poor choices concerning diet, family history and social and environmental factors. Along with this, low-income populations are more vulnerable to developing type 2 diabetes1. The inability to commute to clinics, afford healthcare and eat healthy foods make the management of the disease increasingly difficult for individuals with a lower socioeconomic status.
What goes wrong in people who have diabetes?
Diabetes type 2 has been dubbed the “silent killer” by medical professionals because patients rarely experience symptoms at first. As the disease progresses, high blood sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream can cause a range of serious health problems. Sufferers will experience fatigue, thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite and impaired vision. When the disease is left untreated or not managed correctly, it can damage small blood vessels (retina, fingertips, toes and kidneys) and large blood vessels (heart attacks, aorta, brain and lower limbs). Consequently, type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, strokes, kidney disease and limb amputations.
It needs to change now
Diabetes will continue rising in numbers due to poverty, urbanised sedentary lifestyles, and the expectation that fast-food sales will reach $931.7 billion by 20272.
In addition, health systems worldwide face the challenges of increasing costs, chronic diseases, expensive medical technology, an ageing population and fragmented care delivery. How can we help patients manage their condition better by ensuring the right care is provided at the right time, at the right place, at an affordable price? How can we ensure early intervention so that those with early-onset diabetes or those at higher risk of developing it can avoid the disease altogether? That’s where the Health Information Exchange (HIE) and Diabetes Pathway come into play.
Tackling the disease with technology
Orion Health’s HIE is a single, comprehensive platform that integrates health and care data from separate systems across a geographical area into one place. It allows clinicians to have a more comprehensive picture of their patients and the population as a whole. The Diabetes Pathway builds upon the clinical data available in the HIE and enables clinicians to create a customised healthcare plan for their patients. Combining the HIE solution and Diabetes Pathway transforms how diabetes clinicians identify the right patient and diagnose and treat chronic diseases, radically improving healthcare.
In the next blog, we will discuss in more detail how diabetic clinicians can use the HIE and Diabetes Pathway to help improve diabetes patient outcomes and provide early intervention for those at risk of developing the disease.
Interested in learning more?
- Feneli, K., George, S., & Aristofania, S. (2020). Challenges in the Development of Diabetes Prevention and Care Models in Low-Income Settings. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 11, 1–9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.00518
- Research and Markets. (2020). Fast Food Market by Type and End User: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2020-2027. Retrieved from https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/5118788/fast-food-market-by-type-and-end-user-global?