According to a Reuters special report, type-2 diabetes was already a pandemic in the United States before COVID-19 hit in 2020.1 It is, therefore, aptly named the “Other Pandemic.”
1 in 10 Americans has diabetes.2 8.5 million were undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).2 The ADA estimates that the annual cost of diabetes to the United States healthcare system is $327 billion.2 Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in 2020, diabetes-related deaths have risen by almost 17% compared to 2019. This increase was higher than any other cause of death by any disease.
In the previous decade, the outlook for diabetes improved due to new therapies and medications1. But certain economic and social factors eroded this trend, especially for younger individuals between 18 and 40 years-of-age.1
What happened or isn’t happening that caused this reversal? There are many factors, but four trends dominate:
Food inflation continues to spiral upward, while the COVID pandemic has created a labor shortage. April 2022 posted a 9.4% increase, the highest food inflation rate since April 1981.3
Since 2005, 181 rural hospitals have shut down.5 According to the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform, at least 40% of rural hospitals in the United States may shut down, leaving around 38 million Americans at risk.6 Patients would need to drive at least 30 minutes further to reach care, creating additional healthcare hardships and decreasing opportunities to receive screening and preventive treatments.6
Healthcare access involves higher health insurance premiums, higher deductibles, and rising prescription prices.7 Racial and economic healthcare disparities persist due primarily to lack of transportation, difficulties accessing the primary care system, and language barriers.6 The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t improved diabetes detection and outcomes. What can medical professionals do?
While significant problems need to be addressed, healthcare providers can help improve outcomes by providing patients with timely, accurate results at the point of care, that will aid in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.
Products such as the Afinion™ HbA1c assay are used to monitor metabolic control in patients with diabetes. It provides the immediate test results you need for improved diabetic control, better patient outcomes, and enhanced operational efficiencies. Patients receive results in as little as 3 minutes, making same visit patient consultations impactful.
“One of the best things we can do as healthcare providers is to unburden the system is to screen those at risk for diabetes and prevent further complications.”
Jay H. Shubrook, D.O., Board Certified Family Physician, and Diabetologist
Chair of the Primary Care Advisory Group of the American Diabetes Association
Let’s address this situation now by putting the power back in the hands of the healthcare professionals who can get patients back on track and get in front of the diabetes pandemic.
1. Terhune, C, Respaut, R and Nelson, DJ, ‘Out of Control: America’s Losing Battle with Diabetes’. Reuters Investigates, 12 Aug 2021, accessed 2 June 2022, https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-diabetes-covid/
2. Statistics About Diabetes, 4 Feb 2022, accessed 2 June 2022, https://www.diabetes.org/aboutus/statistics/about-diabetes
3. United States Food Inflation - May 2022 data, n.d., accessed 2 June 2022, https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/food-inflation
4. Walsh, O, ‘Food Deserts: What They Are and What Causes Them’, Human League, 21 Feb 2022, accessed 2 June 2022, https://thehumaneleague.org/article/food-desert
5. ’Missouri is the #8 state with the most rural hospital closures since 2005’, ABC17news, 9 Dec 2021, accessed 2 June 2022, https://abc17news.com/stacker-missouri/2021/12/09/missouri-is-the-8-statewith-the-most-rural-hospital-closures-since-2005/#:~:text=Since%202005%2C%20181%20rural%20hospitals,Care%20Act%2C%20or%20the%20ACA
6. ’Why Are 800 U.S. Rural Hospitals at the Risk of Closure?’, Advisory Board, 11 Mar 2022, accessed 2 June 2022, https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2022/03/11/rural-hospitals
7. Miller, S, ‘Health Plan Cost Increases for 2022 Return to Pre-Pandemic Levels’, SHRM.org, 8 Oct 2021, accessed 2 June 2022, https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hrtopics/
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