Day 3 at the Australasian Diabetes Congress kicked off today with breakfast at the Adelaide Central Markets. I was absolutely flattered that Renza sacrificed participating in the 6.45am Novo Nordisk Fun Run to join myself, Ashley and Bionic Wookiee David for the best brekky in Adelaide!
Class convened at 9am with a symposium on diabetes technology that, quite frankly, could have gone on for hours. Diabetes Australia CEO Greg Johnson was first up onto the stage to share an update on diabetes technology, much of which I had already heard at Abbott’s DX2Sydney event back in May.
Diabetes Australia advocated for CGM funding for high risk and high need groups, with no age limits. Advocacy had also focussed on co-payments, as has been the case with insulin pump consumables and test strips. The federal government’s announcement of fully subsidised CGM was a complete surprise and will make advocacy more complicated going forward.
Over 9,000 people have taken up CGM since the federal government’s full subsidy launched in April 2017. I also felt slightly patriotic as Professor Johnson highlighted that our NDSS should be the universal access pathway for diabetes technologies.
There is also a product tender of syringes, test strips and urine ketone strips currently listed on the NDSS. It is expected that lower volume items will be removed to reduce costs, with an expected implementation date of December 1.
We are also still waiting on an outcome on the subsidy (not reimbursement!) of Flash Glucose Monitoring. A public health consultation commenced in July 2017. Despite many healthcare professionals spreading Chinese whispers that the FreeStyle Libre will be subsidised soon, a final decision rests with the department of health. This really is anyone’s guess!
Jane Speight of the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes took to the stage next to present some of the research into the psychosocial issues around Diabetes technology. My takeaways were that the tech is only as beneficial as the commitment from the person using it. The studies also prove that technology won’t be for everyone. It all comes down to individual choice.
Sue Wyatt rounded out our session, pursuing the topic of how well we have closed the loop. Although not made clear, the research presented referred to clinical trials in Medtronic’s 670G hybrid closed loop system only.
Closed loop systems automatically adjust basal insulin based on CGM readings in order to regulate blood glucose levels. The system had a blood glucose target of 6.6mmol, with a target of 8.3mmol set during exercise. This is disappointing, and I know for a fact that these targets wouldn’t be suitable for many people with diabetes.
However, I completely get that this blood glucose target may help to get a hybrid closed loop system as such approved for use sooner. I also expect there’s a commercial motivation for this as well, with the ability to sell an upgraded or enhanced hybrid system down the line.
The major benefit of Medtronic’s 670G was seen in overnight blood glucose levels. Interestingly, we were told that this 6 month study was only in its infancy. It leaves a lot to be said about the timing of approval for Medtronic’s 670G system (the 670G pump has been approved, the 670G compatible CGM sensors are yet to receive approval).
Congratulations to Amy Rush of the Telethon Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, who was awarded Credentialed Diabetes Educator of the year. Go, WA!
I was also delighted to hear that SA based CDE Jayne Lehman was also awarded an honorary life membership to the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA). Well done, Jayne!
The day rounded out with a debate on whether diabetes technology was helpful or harmful. This was a complete letdown, given that people with diabetes were on the affirmative side and people without diabetes were on the negative side. Without technology, we’d all be living in caves!
I would like to extend a massive thank you to Diabetes Australia for inviting me to be part of the ‘Peoples Voice’ team once again this year. While they covered my travel, accommodation and registration costs to attend the Congress, they did not pay for my opinions or my time. While I certainly don’t claim to represent anyone other than myself, I hope that I have been able to bring a consumer voice to the Congress.
My gratitude also extends to joint Congress hosts – the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) and the Australian Diabetes Society (ADS) – for their support of Diabetes Australia’s ‘People’s Voice’ initiative.
Finally, a massive thank you to my amazing tribe of people with diabetes that made my week so special. I feel so privileged to spend time in your company call you all friends.
It’s been an insanely busy week with long days and late nights attending product launches, networking and blogging. I haven’t even began to scratch the surface of the exciting developments that have come out of this week.
I’m homeward bound as we speak and look forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight, having a coffee machine at my disposal tomorrow morning, and spending my weekend recouperating.