Survey of physicians highlights diabetes trends, desire for more prevention incentives

A comparative outlook survey recently released by Sermo on behalf of Joslin Diabetes Center and WorldONE, found that most primary care physicians would approve of more regulatory action taken by the government when it comes to unhealthy food.

[See also: Lifestyle changes improve health and reduce disability in people with type 2 diabetes]

According to survey results, 76 percent of physicians concur that the federal government should regulate foods containing ingredients of lesser or little nutritional value; moreover, 71 percent agreed with the New York City Health Commissioner’s proposal to ban soft drinks larger than 16 ounces at public restaurants and fast food chains.   

“The main questions were the regulation questions — those that related to the Board of Health and the Health Commissioner in upstate New York and also about federal regulation of healthy foods in general,” Jon Michaeli, Sermo’s senior vice president of global community and marketing, told PhysBizTech.

Those queried included some 450 delegates attending the Diabetes Innovation 2012 event as well as WorldOne-affiliated primary care physicians and endocrinologists, who employed a digital intelligence portal to respond.

[See also: Union of hypertension, diabetes ups visual damage]

Survey results of particular interest included the following:

  • 79 percent believe employers should fund weight-control interventions for all employees.
  • 97 percent believe individual health counseling has a powerful effect on the health of people with diabetes.
  • 87 percent say more pharmaceutical options are needed for diabetes.
  • Of emerging science and technology options, 62 percent believe innovative devices (e.g., pumps, monitors, implants) or drug therapies are most likely to have the greatest near term patient benefit.

Comparison of the two groups' responses revealed enlightening, but potentially troubling, non-alignment in several key areas:

  • 55 percent of conference delegates agree pharmacists should be able to serve as primary care providers for people with diabetes, versus only 15 percent of physicians.
  • 70 percent of physicians believe pharmaceutically assisted innovations are necessary for obesity management, versus 45 percent of delegates.
  • 17 percent of physicians believe future screening will have a positive impact on clinical outcomes versus only 9 percent of delegates. Physicians also place more emphasis on adherence and future screening and less on effective treatment.

“[Physicians] think other industry participants in the system should provide more incentives to lose weight, which is obviously one of the major factors and predictors for diabetes. Other areas were pretty enlightening about the fact that they still believe that there are pharmaceutically assisted weight loss opportunities. It’s not just a matter of parties providing perfect incentives, but that there are drugs out there and they believe that drug development and innovation in pharmaceuticals will help alleviate some of the burden that diabetes has become,” Michaeli said of the results.

"These results are very important to us and our mission,” Julie A. Brown, Joslin's executive director of diabetes innovation and global professional education, added in a press release. “With Diabetes Innovation 2012, it's vital that all stakeholders are aligned, and we understand beliefs and concerns that may derail progress toward a more effective system. If stakeholder groups' concerns are not understood or ignored, we won't realize the true cooperation we need to make any sustained, valuable improvement."

The freshly forged partnership between WorldOne and Joslin is one Michaeli hopes will usher in a new, more comprehensive surveying method for the industry.

"Our Joslin partnership is producing illuminating online discussion and collaboration on diabetes prevention and treatment, with actionable steps toward improving patient outcomes," he commented in a news release. “Our combined efforts may yield the most comprehensive repository of diabetes insights anywhere on the Internet, with clear benefits for virtually anyone in the healthcare ecosystem."

What’s more, the successes of such conversations won’t end when physicians stop talking— information will travel and prove valuable to all healthcare professionals and even patients.

“The benefits of the survey extend well beyond the community. We expect that when we shared this information, it was going to be beneficial for many other stakeholders in the healthcare system. So it’s not just about the community, it’s about what others can learn from it and how we can generate collaboration amongst all parties.”

And once you get physicians talking both online and at events “there’s no telling how far it’s going to go and the ideas that will be generated and the conclusions that they’ll draw, the solutions they’ll skim up,” Michaeli concluded.

Find the full survey here. [See also: Study finds normal blood sugar level may not be so sweet on the brain]

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