News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

HTA in diabetes: Australian Diabetes Society advocates for clarity amid shifting goalposts

Health Industry Hub | November 6, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: A powerful coalition of patient advocacy groups and clinical experts united to underscore the pivotal role of the patient voice in transforming healthcare outcomes.

The panel at the MTAA MedTech23 conference, moderated by Jane Crowe, Managing Director ANZ at Cardinal Health, featured Dr Sof Andrikopoulos, endocrinologist and CEO of Australian Diabetes Society, Sarah Thomas, Business Owner of Wholesome Blends, and Jen Bartlett, Chair of Lipoedema Australia. These panellists delved into the real challenges faced by patients and the path forward to overcome the barriers.

Ms Crowe, in her opening remarks, emphasised the importance of prioritising the patient voice, stating “We need to ensure that the patient voice is heard and remind ourselves of both the value of medical technology and the benefits for patient outcomes.”

Dr Andrikopoulos shared the journey of continuous glucose monitor (CGM) advocacy. He highlighted the power of technology to transform the management of type 1 diabetes, expressing, “Advocacy works. Advocacy can change lives. The CGM and insulin pumps together – that’s where the magic happens and where people really get benefit from being able to prevent hypoglycaemia which is the biggest fear for the person with type 1 diabetes, as well as high blood glucose levels. We are now looking at expanding the CGM access even further to people with type 2 diabetes.”

He added “At the moment, there is no clear path for novel diabetes technology to be assessed and we’re advocating really strongly for that. It’s like playing football where you don’t know where the goalposts are as they keep constantly shifting. We need clarity in health technology assessment (HTA).”

Sarah Thomas, a devoted mother of twins, recounted her family’s journey with enteral feeding and her quest for healthy nutrition. She noted the positive change in recent years, attributing it to the power of social media in uniting families who advocate for choice and access to better options. Her story underscored the significance of patient choice in medical care.

Jen Bartlett shared her personal experience as a Lipoedema patient, emphasising the need for greater awareness and research for this progressive disease, predominantly affecting women. She stressed the importance of research and biomarkers to provide accurate and timely diagnoses.

The panellists also shared their perspectives on whether the patient voice is being heard. Dr Andrikopoulos acknowledged the progress made in diabetes care due to patient advocacy but stressed the need for continued advocacy to bridge gaps in access. Ms Bartlett revealed that the patient voice for Lipoedema is not yet adequately heard due to a lack of awareness at the diagnosis stage, while Ms Thomas emphasised the power of social media in amplifying the patient voice in the past five years.

In closing, the panellists provided insights into what a brighter future looks like for patients. Dr Andrikopoulos highlighted the importance of equitable and affordable access to novel diabetes medical technology and medicines, in addition to increased research funding.

Ms Bartlett called for making treatments for Lipoedema more affordable, especially liposuction, and investing in research. Ms Thomas emphasised that patients should be treated as individuals, not just as medical cases, and urged the medical community to recognise the knowledge and advocacy of patients in their own care.

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