Welcome to the third and final day of the Australasian Diabetes Congress, the joint annual scientific meeting of the Australian Diabetes Society and the Australian Diabetes Educators Association. I’m here as a part of Diabetes Australia’s ‘People’s Voice’ team of consumer reporters.
My morning started with a detour to the True Plus stand, home of some amazing chocolate flavoured (and non-chalky) glucose tablets. Special thank you to Renza, who offered to walk past and get me some more samples. What are friends for?
My day kicked off with a Clinical Symposium on Technology for the prevention and management of complications in diabetes. With eye screenings recommended every two years, the audience heard about the challenges of engaging people with diabetes in their eye care after such a long span of time had passed, and also challenges in encouraging people to return for monthly retinopathy treatments. We were shown some new advances in retinal imaging that were addressing cost, bulkiness and the need to bring the person with diabetes to the eye camera.
Of most interest was the concept of Artificial Intelligence, which was particularly useful in remote and rural communities. We were presented a case study that comprised of a portable, offline retinal screening device. This was then combined with an offline Artificial Intelligence system on a smartphone that helped non-eye specialists to effectively assess eye health.
After morning tea, the #DAPeoplesVoice team headed to a session on technology and type 1 diabetes in young people. Young adults aged 18-25 were a particularly challenging age group in terms of meeting their hba1c targets, due to significant life changes happening around these ages. There was one graph presented that mapped out a clear spike in hba1cs among people in their late teens and 20s. I also wondered if the models of care didn’t warrant a further review. I know that transition from youth to adult services is still a challenge, while many people also fall through the cracks due to a lack of person centred care.
Research was also presented into improvements on hba1c since the introduction of subsidised CGM in under 21s in April 2017. Without going into too much detail, I feel very much that it’s still too early to draw any conclusions. Another study compared insulin pump therapy to multiple daily injections. While insulin pump therapy did produce slightly better hba1c results, the margins were extremely slim.
The most interesting presentation was one on uptake of CGM. 115 survey participants between the ages of 15 and 21 were offered subsidised CGM, and were followed at the 3 month and 6 month mark. Only 44 patients were using CGM at the 3 month mark, while only 18 stuck with it by the 6 month mark. Reasons cited were discomfort, inconvenience, attachment, visibility and a lack of suitability with their lifestyle (such as playing sports). I think these issues are particularly pertinent to kids, who just want to be kids.
It was great to see Bodil from Ascensia Diabetes Care and Donnette (sorry if I’ve spelt that wrong!) from Diabetes Australia ducking in and out of sessions over the past three days and immersing themselves in the conference experience. After passing ships in the night, it was also great to catch up briefly with Bec and Amy from the Family Centre at the Airport.
It’s a big ask to invest so much of your time time in the world of diabetes. A friend of mine once expressed the importance of taking whatever opportunity you get to (for lack of a better word) advocate, and I couldn’t agree more. When I first came to this conference in 2017, I expressed how truly humbling it was to connect with so many people who were passionate about diabetes. Two years later, and those feelings haven’t changed.
After an amazing week spent in the company of so many tribe members, my cup is well and truly full. Thank you to everyone who made my #19ADC experience so special.
Disclosures: Diabetes Australia covered my flights, registration, some meals and three nights accommodation to attend the Australasian Diabetes Congress as part of their ‘People’s Voice’ initiative. I have given up my own time to attend, and am sharing my own thoughts here, as always.