We are always interested in readers’ opinions. We received this from John Kamp, who is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication. We wholeheartedly applaud his strong views and call to action.
Governments and individuals better stop "saving" money by restricting formularies and delaying treatment, or there may be fewer lives to save and less money to treat the survivors.
Let me elaborate with one example, type 2 diabetes, a condition I follow closely because I have it.
I spent much of the weekend catching up on the new research presented late last year at the World Diabetes Conference in Capetown, South Africa, supporting more aggressive treatment of type 2 diabetes. [See our coverage at www.diatribe.us]
The research results are exciting. First, earlier and more aggressive treatment will improve blood sugar control and delay the progression of the disease, making it easier to treat and reducing the risk of complications. Second, new drugs and new ways to deliver existing drugs provide exciting evolutionary, though not necessarily revolutionary, advances. Recently approved and promising new drugs could delay progression of the disease for five to ten years. That could well mean that a 60-year-old like me may never go blind, lose a foot, become impotent, require a liver transplant, have a premature heart attack, or face many of the other common complications of this dreaded disease.
Avoiding these things saves a lot of money in the long run, but requires time, attention and money on the front end. Right now -- not a few years from now -- I, my health plan, my doctor and the government must focus on more aggressive treatment. That requires sacrifice, effort and money.
For me, it means a significant personal commitment, including:
1. even more aggressive diet and exercise,
2. careful adherence to drug regimens, and
3. giving myself shots of insulin or insulin boosters.
For my doctor, it means education and monitoring, much of which is not fully compensated.
For my health care plan and the government, it means spending more money today on treatment and drugs.
For me today's pains are worth the investment. I will make the personal investments and work hard with my doctors and my payment partners to maintain my health. I will make up any shortfall from the others if needed. I'm fortunate enough to have the means and resolve to do so.
Meanwhile, medical policy makers who review this new research must make a similar commitment.
Time is short. We are looking down the barrel of an epidemic of type 2 diabetes that may surpass the personal and social costs of other maladies like AIDS and cancer. Unfortunately, denial is the all-too-common reaction to the social danger of diabetes today.
Right now, medical policy makers must stop denying the cost and trouble of treating type 2 diabetes. We must mobilize health care professionals, patients and government, take advantage of existing and developing science, and take a much more aggressive stance.
Denial of treatment will maim and kill our bodies and bankrupt our treasuries.
Coalition for Healthcare Communication