A new study published in Health Affairs last week predicted that nearly one billion dollars in cost savings over the next 25 years if the ‘artificial pancreas’ was used in those patients ravaged by diabetes. The artificial pancreas combines an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor to help patients more effectively control their diabetes and represents the type of new technologies which are coming on to market that will change our whole notion of how we manage care services.
In the report prepared by Michael O’Grady, Former Assistant Secretary of Health and now President of the West Policy Center, “New technology that can slow or stop the progression of diabetes complications has the potential to deliver clinical improvements, while simultaneously reducing spending on expensive complications.”
Diabetes accounts for nearly 42 percent of Medicare’s fee-for-service spending, with kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, blindness and amputation potential complications of the disease. Medicare expenses from diabetes are expected to almost quintuple to $171 billion by 2034 from 2009 annual expenditures of $45 billion. And, as we all know, the major key to controlling diabetes is to control glucose levels –– a difficult, labor intensive and costly process that requires constant diligence by the diabetic. The study cites the fact that projected Medicare savings would be $937 million in nominal dollars after twenty-five years of using the product for individuals who warrant it. This study exemplifies the power of technology which is going to increasingly find its way into our care regimes as a modality for increasing quality, reducing costs and enhancing services.