How much money are we wasting on blood sugar measurements?

A SEEMINGLY SMALL CHANGE WITH A NATIONAL IMPACT

There is no single culprit in the battle against rising healthcare costs; rather, there are many drivers contributing to the increase. Soaring prices for medical services, new costly prescription drugs and medical technologies, paying for volume over value, unhealthy lifestyles, and a lack of transparency concerning prices and quality are all factors contributing to the spike in premiums.

Patients with diabetes require lifetime care to prevent or minimize potential complications- especially affecting the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. Most Type 1 persons with diabetes require insulin, and it’s essential they monitor blood glucose with frequent “finger stick” testing (self-monitored blood glucose or SMBG) or with a continuous glucose monitor.

For decades however, daily SMBG testing has also been ordered for patients with the more common Type 2 diabetes who do not require insulin. Does SMBG benefit exceed cost for this group? Does SMBG improve glucose control? Does it improve lives? Prior clinical research studies suggested perhaps mild benefit, but questions remained.

In 2013 the Choosing Wisely program recommended against “routine” SMBG for those not requiring insulin. An exciting confirmation of this approach was presented at the American Diabetes Association 77th Annual Meeting (and published in the June 10, 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association).

     - Kenneth Piper, MD, Consulting Physican Advisor, WellOK