The cost of dealing with diabetes, which occurs when the body is unable to control blood sugar levels properly, is over £1.5 million an hour or 10 per cent of the entire NHS budget for England and Wales.
Certainly, telemedicine is going to be on the agenda at the conference which takes place at ExCel in London. This will allow many more people to take ownership of their own care and to feel like equal partners with doctors when it comes to medical management. Of course, telemedicine, which includes remote monitoring, is not for everyone and many people prefer to stick to traditional care, but there are many ways where it is already being used to great effect.
In terms of technology, there are now continuous glucose monitoring systems, rather than the usual finger prick blood tests which have to be done several times a day. The flash glucose monitor, which is now available on the NHS, measures glucose at intervals in the interstititial fluid that bathes the cells, using a small sensor implanted inserted just underneath the skin. The sensor is scanned to read the blood glucose level. Another type of glucose monitoring is Continuous Glucose Monitoring, or CGM, when glucose is measured constantly, again through the interstitial fluid. The blood glucose level is sent automatically to an insulin pump or hand held device, without the need for scanning. CGM also has an alarm which will alert you when you need to treat a low blood sugar level or take insulin to get back to the normal range. CGM is particularly useful for people who aren’t very aware of changes in their blood sugar level. NICE guidelines recommend CGM for certain people with diabetes who have difficulty managing their blood sugar levels, but some people who fit the criteria have found it difficult to access CGM technology. It is a very expensive resource and funding is not always available.