Here's what docs don't know about diabetes patients

August 1, 2016

Surveys conducted by the AACE with support from Sanofi US, identified differences in perceptions among adults living with type 2 diabetes. What healthcare professionals don't know may surprise you.

Half of adults living with type 2 diabetes are very willing to take action to achieve their A1c targets quicker, but less than one in five physicians and other medical professionals believe that patients are willing to take these actions, according to two new surveys.

Two 20-minute online surveys, from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), with support from Sanofi US, consisted of one survey among 1,000 adults living with type 2 diabetes who were diagnosed with diabetes from one to five years ago, as well as one with 1,004 physicians including, endocrinologists and primary care physicians.

There were two key takeaways from the Perspectives in Diabetes Care: the first was that more than half of the patients surveyed are very willing to do more to achieve their A1c targets quicker, such as visit their physicians and other medical professionals more often or make multiple medication changes, while less than one in five physicians and other medical professionals believe patients would be very willing to take these actions.  

“The most surprising finding of the surveys was the perceived willingness of patients to take action to achieve their A1c targets quicker compared to the perceptions physicians and other medical professionals have about patients’ willingness,” says George Grunberger, MD, FACP, FACE, immediate past president, AACE.

For example, the surveys found that while 57% of adults living with type 2 diabetes would be very willing to visit their physicians and other medical professionals more often, only 19% of physicians and other medical professionals polled believe this to be the case. Additionally, when it comes to making multiple medication changes in order to achieve their A1c target quicker, 52% of adults living with type 2 diabetes said they would be very willing to do so, though only 16% of physicians and other medical professionals think patients would.

“These differing perceptions are interesting as it could impact the length of time it takes some patients to achieve their individualized A1c targets,” Grunberger says.

Next: Not quick enough?

 

 

Second, the surveys found that patient frustration increases the longer they go without achieving their A1c target and sometimes, patients stop taking their diabetes medication without alerting their physician or other medical professionals because they were not reaching their A1c target quickly enough.

Specifically, 22% of patients surveyed have stopped taking their diabetes medication without talking to their physician or other medical professional and more than one-third of these patients reported doing so because they were not reaching their A1c target quickly enough.

“We believe this is significant, especially when you consider that more than 29 million people in the U.S. are living with diabetes,” Grunberger says. “This could be a substantial number of people who stop taking their medication.”

Given the prevalence and impact of diabetes on the U.S. healthcare system, the findings provide managed care executives new insight into patient as well as physician and other medical professionals’ perspectives on some of the challenges of managing diabetes, according to Grunberger.

“The results point to a communication gap between the physician and patient. Identifying ways to close this gap and help to ensure physicians and patients are aligned on treatment plans and expectations is a responsibility of all involved in our healthcare system.

"The fact that some adults living with type 2 diabetes are willing to accelerate their treatment in order to achieve their individualized A1c target quicker “underscores the importance of personalized approaches for physicians and other medical professionals to effectively address their patients’ therapeutic goals when setting treatment plans,” Grunberger says.

In addition, these findings suggest that physicians and other medical professionals may need to consider different diabetes management strategies for certain patients in order to help them reach their individualized A1c targets at their desired pace, in accordance with the AACE diabetes guidelines and algorithm, which recommend re- evaluating patients every three months, according to Grunberger.