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GCC governments need to manage diabetes impact as no cure expected before 2030

February 11, 2014 5:51 am

Despite the long-term outlook on a cure for Diabetes, governments can play a critical role in driving better outcomes for patients and removing costs from the healthcare system in the GCC, finds a recent research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to assess the impact of diabetes globally.

“There is an increase in lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity in the GCC countries,” said Kapil Bhatia, Principal, Boston Consulting Group. “In particular, diabetes is a huge burden on healthcare systems in the GCC, with an annual average cost of approximately $5,000 for patients with no complications and three times that amount for diabetes patients who encounter complications,” Kapil added.

The BCG year-long study identified four specific levers that governments can utilize to improve the situation:
1.Drive “consumerization” of basic diabetes care – governmental intervention to support the private sector to diagnose and treat basic forms of diabetes is highly beneficial. Working with private and quasi-government entities can enhance access to consumer data and early diagnosis and treatment for patients.

2.Push targeted treatments through an integrated care model – integrated care offers the possibility to cut cost and offer care along the whole value chain. The concept centers around the fact that one entity is fully responsible for the care of the diabetic patient, from coordinating treatment to seeing specialists to following up on compliance and the way care is delivered (e.g., home care). For GCC governments, this is a particularly critical lever to push as government entities often control upwards of 50% of the provision.

3.Quantum leap in population level programs to create a platform to promote preventive measures – while population level programs have been limited in the GCC; there are examples such as the Weqaya health initiative and the Beat Diabetes Walk that have been implemented. It is critical for the governments to significantly expand these initiatives to target those endangered by diabetes from a young age.

4.Revamp payment models to focus on outcomes of diabetes treatment – in healthcare, payment models set up the incentives and hence drive the behaviors of the players. Addressing diabetes effectively requires a change in behavior of players. Current payment models are designed to support episodic care and have few elements if any tied to outcomes. It is critical that providers deliver integrated care as opposed to episodic care, while it is important that patients improve compliance with care and make the lifestyle changes required.

“With diabetes prevalence continuing to rise in the GCC and no cure in the horizon, now is the time to act. While these four levers do not provide the silver bullet for diabetes, GCC governments have an opportunity to take action on these levers that provide a streamlined approach to stymie the impact of diabetes. Given that populations are still young, the dim projections of the future impact of diabetes can be altered if governments act now,” added Kapil Bhatia, Principal, Boston Consulting Group. “Each lever in itself is not enough to move the needle; however, these four levers together will have an impact in terms of reducing prevalence, improving lives of diabetes patients in the region as well as limiting burden on the healthcare system,” further explained Bhatia.

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