More testing could cut diabetes complications
The Future Offensive Annual HbA1c testing can leave big gaps in information about the progress of diabetes. A more proactive approach is needed and a new simple, point-of-care test kit could help.
The key to controlling diabetes is information
The more information that patients and clinicians have about the patient's blood glucose levels, the better they are able to monitor the progress of the condition and to prevent deterioration and complications.
"Patients could go for months before deterioration is detected.”
However, the HbA1c test, which is the best way of monitoring average levels accurately over a two- to three-month period, is only offered to diabetes patients by the NHS once a year.
“As a result a patient could go for months before poor control or deterioration is detected,” says Professor Ponnusamy Saravanan, Professor of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism and Honorary Consultant Physician at the University of Warwick.
More frequent testing can only help
“We need to be more proactive in the use of these tests. Carrying out the HbA1c test more frequently would give a better picture of the patient's overall control of their blood glucose levels.
"It would give them better feedback about their skills in managing their condition and empowering them to have better control of their diabetes.
"Any deterioration will also be revealed sooner, so earlier action could be taken to prevent any resulting complications.”
Short-term glucose test strips aren't enough
Many patients are already being prescribed blood glucose test strips that allow them to monitor their own blood glucose levels daily – but these only reveal variations on a short-term basis.
"Tests could be supplied to GP surgeries, pharmacies and ultimately, directly to patients."
“The HbA1c test can show average deterioration over a longer period, which is far more significant,” says Saravanan.
At present, the HbA1c test is ordered by GPs and requires the patient to attend a clinic and return for the results, which can be time-consuming and potentially expensive for patients and medical staff.
More accessible testing will change standards
However, a portable point-of-care device is now available that enables the test to be carried out in five minutes using one drop of blood.
"The technology could be supplied to GP surgeries, pharmacies, and even – with guidance in interpreting the results – direct to patients,” says Professor Saravanan.
“This could empower patients to better control their condition, reduce the likelihood of deterioration and complications and ultimately save money and time for the NHS.”
Established in 1990, BHR is a market leader in the provision of Point of Care devices. Our aim is to bring point of care testing closer to the patient making it easier and more convenient for the patient and the clinician.
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