New publication shows the impact of government-funded insulin pump programs on usage
In Canada, where there are great differences in terms of coverage for diabetes technologies, like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors, it is important to know if access and uptake are related.
That’s why Diabetes Action Canada researchers Drs. Alanna Weisman, Gillian Booth and Bruce Perkins, working with medical student Cimon Song, used the National Diabetes Repository to study this issue.
Their paper, Impact of government-funded insulin pump programs on insulin pump use in Canada: a cross-sectional study using the National Diabetes Repository, was published in BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care in October.
This research, which was supported by Diabetes Action Canada, was able to study adults with type 1 diabetes across five different provinces via the National Diabetes Repository (NDR). The NDR is a tool researchers can use to better analyze information about people living with diabetes across Canada in order to support improved health outcomes and prevent complications. Oversight of the use of the data is through dedicated Patient Partners working alongside researchers, healthcare providers and experts in privacy and law.
Weisman says the key finding from this study is that providing funding for insulin pumps makes this technology more accessible. This in and of itself may not seem surprising, but as the area had not been studied before it was important to confirm. The team also showed that, while overall access is improved, there are other factors that need to be considered. “An interesting finding was that even in provinces with funding for insulin pumps, we observed disparities in insulin pump use with those from lower-income neighbourhoods still being less likely to use insulin pumps despite the funding programs,” she explains.
This opens up the need to study this area further, including identifying and understanding barriers to insulin pump use that go beyond financial considerations. “Previous research has shown that some of the other factors include biases of the health care providers, access to expert teams, and education,” explains Weisman. “Future work in this area should focus on how insulin pumps and other diabetes technologies can be implemented effectively, and likely this will require a more comprehensive approach than just providing funding.”
Moving forward, Weisman hopes to validate these findings by studying other data sources, as well as to look more deeply into the issue of non-financial barriers to access.