Diabetes: helping reinvent the care pathway to make patients’ lives easier

Published on June 22, 2022

8 mins

Air Liquide Healthcare is the leading European player in care for patients with diabetes, aiming to improve their quality of life and manage their condition through new tools, innovative technologies and a continuous reflection process for personalized continuum of care. This unique approach, focused on individual patients and their needs, helps lessen the daily burden of their condition.

One disease, millions of individuals

Diabetes is characterized by excess sugar in the blood (hyperglycemia) and can be divided into two main types: type 1, in which the pancreas produces no insulin, and the more common type 2, which can develop gradually due to a sedentary lifestyle and an excessively rich diet. However, worldwide, there are 537 million adults living with diabetes1, each with a different daily way of life characterized by treatment, monitoring blood glucose, following specially adapted diets, physical exercise, etc. Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires controlling blood sugar levels to prevent complications in small blood vessels. It affects the nerves, retina and kidneys. Large blood vessels can also be affected by diabetes, potentially leading to myocardial infarction (heart attack), strokes or lower-limb disorders.

These are preventable complications but ones which unfortunately remain frequent, representing 75% of diabetes-related healthcare expenditure in Europe!1 This figure underlines the continued need for greater coordination and discussion among all stakeholders: diabetologists in the community and in hospitals and other specialists, general practitioners, nurses and paramedics, device manufacturers, healthcare providers, patients and their families, charities, and the list goes on. For example, continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps and all the research relating to data and artificial intelligence can enable a large portion of continuous insulin therapy to be automated, thus making the daily lives of patients easier.

Innovative and personalized support

However, as Samuel Chevalier, Head of Air Liquide Healthcare’s Diabetes Program, explains, "these innovations can only yield the expected results when accompanied by personalized support whenever necessary. Medical devices must adapt to the daily lives of patients, not the other way around. They must also facilitate the work of caregivers, who require training to familiarize themselves with these new tools. And of course, let us not forget the need for the healthcare system to evolve and encourage the introduction of new continua of care based around these devices."

 

 

In addition to its support for the most promising projects and its key role in access to innovation, Air Liquide Healthcare’s commitment to patients puts it in a strong position to help improve their adherence and motivation. "In order to have an effective impact" underlines Samuel Chevalier, "it is important to understand patients in all their diversity. Certain have a disease that is under control, others do not. Their relationship with caregivers is not the same, neither is their appetite for digital tools. Without forgetting, of course, their social background." Air Liquide offers a variety of tools to help people manage diabetes on a daily basis, ranging from patient workshops to dedicated IT platforms, access to experts and training for medical devices, encouraging patient empowerment at all times. Its French subsidiary Dinno Santé, for example, in partnership with the charity Aide aux Jeunes Diabétiques, has launched an application that uses gamification to help children between the ages of 8 and 12 better understand diabetes.

A new approach to care

By providing each patient with a tailored response, Air Liquide Healthcare has based its approach on the value of healthcare. "Currently, all diabetics in Europe have appointments with their caregivers at similar intervals. However, identifying the individual needs of each patient and offering made-to-measure care would allow us as well as doctors to spend more time on high-risk cases and prevent more complications," highlights Samuel Chevalier. "By making use of the data that we have access to, we can build a personalized care plan with each patient." This approach to care improves their adherence to treatment, reduces the risk of complications and hospitalization and, most importantly, helps diabetics live with their condition better. This integrated approach also drives the potential for major savings in terms of time and efficiency for healthcare professionals as well as financial savings for the healthcare system.

Innovating in diabetes care
In its 2022 report, the International Diabetes Federation, an umbrella organization of over 230 national associations in 170 countries, draws attention to the growing prevalence of diabetes in Europe and the costs it generates. By 2030, diabetes is expected to affect 67 million patients in Europe, compared with 61 million in 20211. Faced with this medical and economic challenge, patient empowerment is said to be key to improving their treatment, as well as strengthening relationships with and between caregivers. According to the report, “New approaches in this field are focused on three aspects: improving adherence and motivation by increasing access to knowledge and information; supporting self-management through digital tools and applications; and providing psychological support through peer-to-peer interaction.” Pioneering approaches that create value for patients are beginning to emerge and the entire diabetes community is now calling on national healthcare systems and decision makers to invest in innovation so that individuals living with diabetes live the best lives possible.
1. International Diabetes Federation Atlas 2021.