New ideas to help tackle the country’s high rate of diabetes are being put under the spotlight. Rebekah Fraser looked into two new trials and what it might mean for some of the more than 200,000 Kiwis with the chronic illness.
Breaking down the barriers to medication adherence will be the focus of one of two new trials launched to help address the high rates of diabetes in New Zealand.
The first trial will see outpatients from Counties Manukau District Health Board who have diabetes receiving their prescriptions via courier.
The technology, by Zoom Pharmacy, identifies patients who are not keeping up with the level of medication prescribed by their doctor, allowing them to be followed up by a healthcare practitioner.
Pharmacist Din Redzepagic said there were a number of reasons diabetics may not have access to prescription medication.
“Most of the time, it’s a health literacy issue. So we are there to talk to the patients, answer their questions and help educate them.”
Diabetes was notorious for poor medication adherence as it was asymptomatic, he said.
“People with diabetes don’t feel it. They feel the same regardless of whether they’ve taken their medication or not. The problem is if they don’t take the medicine, the complications start and it can lead to all sorts of damage.”
Redzepagic said many of the patients from Manukau Superclinic were shift workers or had limited transport options open to them.
“By delivering the medicine to their door, scheduling calls with a multi-lingual team of pharmacists and introducing an optional app in their health care routine, we hope to remove some of the key barriers which prevent them taking their medication as prescribed by their doctor.”
Ensuring people took their medication as required prevented those complications and lead to a healthier lifestyle overall.
“It also puts less strain on the health system.”
Redzepagic said the United States had a similar system for delivering medication.
“They found that if they deliver chronic medicines directly to the patient, people do better.”
He said there was a possibility the technology could be expanded to other medications and illnesses.
“We do still have to work within the legislation though. So we don’t issue prescriptions and people still need to see their doctors. But we can help facilitate that too if needed.”
The second trial, underway at Auckland University’s Department of Medicine, hopes to identify the impact of diabetic patient demographics, such as ethnicity and their body’s response to different treatment regimes.
It will examine how patients respond to two commonly prescribed medications for diabetes.
Lead pharmacist for Zoom Pharmacy Dale Griffiths said the research was important as getting the right medication was an important factor in being able to control the disease.
“If we can get a better understanding of which medication may work better for your ethnicity or body type, it may mean you can better manage your symptoms and also avoid side effects from taking an alternative medicine.”