Personalized Glucose Goals Lowers Medication Costs Considerably

A University of Chicago Medicine cost analysis indicated diabetes treatment plans with individualized blood sugar goals save $13,546 in health care costs over an average life span. Most of the savings are owed to reduced medication costs.

“I think this model will give evidence to physicians that individualized glycemic control is something to consider,” said lead study author Neda Laiteerapong, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at UChicago Medicine. “It can help save our health system money, and it's in line with what many patients want.”

The ADA and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes published a statement in 2012 recommending individualized goals for diabetes patients. An elderly person with severe diabetes complications, for instance, may not need the same aggressive A1C target as a 40 year old with minimal, or no complications.

For the new Chicago study, investigators used data from 569 over-30 adults with type 2 diabetes in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Factors such as their age, diabetes duration, complication history, and life expectancy were fed into a statistical model that calculated lifetime medical costs.

For each of the adults 2,500 simulations were run for treatment strategies using both personalized A1C values that altered over time, and a standard, uniform A1C goal of less than seven percent. The study outcomes showed an average $13,546 savings per person using individualized plans when compared to the uniform plans.

If you multiply the individual savings times the approximately 17.3 million over-30 U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes, lifetime nationwide savings come to $234 billion.

“The differences in life expectancy and complication rates were very small, but choosing a personalized A1C goal can reduce medications by half per year,” said Laiteerapong. “If I told my patients they could take half as many medications but maybe there's a small chance they might live a month less, I'm pretty sure many of them would sign up for it.”

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: 401(K) 2012

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