Experts emphasize the importance of technology and access to medicines and modern medical devices to improve treatment of diabetics

On 16 June 2020 STAklub organized a discussion on the treatment of patients with diabetes during the COVID-19 epidemic, which the Forum of International Research and Development Pharmaceutical Companies gladly supported.  According to data provided by the National Institute of Public Health Slovenia has approximately 175,000 patients with diabetes, most of whom have type 2 diabetes. Guests of the discussion included Prof. Dr. Andrej Janež, M.D., Head of the Clinical Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases at the University Medical Hospital Ljubljana, Jana Komel, M. D., Head of the Specialist Diabetic Clinics at the Koper healthcare centre and Alojz Rudolf, Vice-President of the Slovenian Diabetes Association.

Discussions focused on finding answers on how the treatment of diabetic patients changed during the epidemic. Diabetes clinics mainly took to telephone and video calls while physicians also emphasized the importance of access to medicines and modern medical devices that help patients monitor their chronic disease. A key prerequisite for successful treatment of patients with diabetes is the assurance of equal access to medicines and modern technologies and access to a diabetologist. An important role in these efforts is played by the pharmaceutical companies that constantly invest and develop new methods of treatment and new more effective medicines.

The guests also touched upon what should be upgraded in the healthcare system to assure uninterrupted treatment of diabetic patients. Dr. Battelino noted on the importance and benefits the sensor for continuous monitoring of glucose brings not only to the patient, but also the healthcare budget. He also called for the establishment of professional platforms for remote treatment of patients which were applied in several clinics with great success in preventing excessive delays.

Dr. Komel mentioned that patients did not have equal access to a physician in all areas. Many diabetes clinics were closed and people turned to their general practice physicians. Another factor emphasized during the discussion was the influence on the overall number of examinations which greatly reduced during the epidemic. It would therefore be prudent to make up for the deficiency in examinations through additional clinics to assure beater treatment of diabetes.

According to Mr. Alojz Rudolf patients sought assistance and advice with different associations. As associations were for the most part required to close their premises during the epidemic, communications with their members were transferred to telephone, web pages and social media. This brings us to the concept of telemedicine that provides an effective and appropriate approach to patient treatment in such circumstances. But in spite of the advances telemedicine has experienced in recent time, it still cannot fully replace a visit with a physician.

A well thought-out system of treatment of diabetes clearly brings long term benefits, provided we as a society are prepared to make short term investments in the system of treatment and greater accessibility of medicines and new technologies that make treatment more effective.

Link to full online discussion: