Research carried out by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute has highlighted inequalities in the accessibility of diabetes medications faced by people living with type 2 diabetes in lower socio-economic areas and rural or remote areas. People in these areas are more likely to be using older medications than those living in major cities and urban areas.
The prescription of newer medications and interventions is much lower in rural areas, and it can take several years for patients to have access to newer medications. By not having timely access to these new medications, people living with diabetes in these areas may be missing out on the benefits that research suggests these modern treatments can offer.
Some reasons for these disparities may include:
- Lack of diabetes specialists in rural and remote areas, with heavy reliance on GPs who are time poor and stretched to capacity
- The time it takes for information on newer medications to filter through to healthcare professionals in rural and remote areas
- A lack of access to diabetes-specific support and networks among GPs in rural areas
- Rural GPs lacking the confidence to prescribe and manage new medications
The involved 1,203,317 Australians with type 2 diabetes who were registered on the NDSS, tracking them over an eight-year period.
Paradoxically, people in rural areas, and particularly Indigenous Australians and those from lower socio-economic areas are more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and are at a much higher risk of developing diabetes-related complications in the long term.
The research shows a clear need for advocacy to better support rural, indigenous and economically disadvantaged Australians living with diabetes to access newer diabetes medications, which are linked to better diabetes outcomes.
Article co-author, Professor Jonathan Shaw commented “It shouldn’t matter where you live, it shouldn’t matter how wealthy or otherwise your suburb is, everyone should be entitled to the same interventions and same medication.”
Diabetes WA is working hard to help overcome the inequity to access on many fronts:
Diabetes Telehealth Service
The Diabetes Telehealth Service is provided free of charge, and offers clinical appointments with a Credentialled Diabetes Educator to provide support, including assessment of medication regimes, for patients living in country WA. The Telehealth Service works with local GP’s to ensure the most effective medication treatment is prescribed .
The Diabetes Telehealth Service also provides a monthly Endocrinology Clinic, where an Endocrinologist conducts more complex assessments and advice to patients living in country WA.
Diabetes WA Helpline – 1300 001 880
The Diabetes WA Helpline is operated by Credentialled Diabetes Educators from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday and provides free information, immediate advice, and support to Western Australians living with diabetes, their carers, support workers, and health professionals.
Upskilling Sessions for Health Professionals
Diabetes WA also offers weekly diabetes upskilling sessions for health professionals in rural areas covering a host of diabetes-related topics, including information on the latest treatments and regimes.
Diabetes WA runs diabetes workshops for people living with diabetes all over the State, as well as the Diabetes LIVE online webinar series. These include full-day fundamental workshops, shorter, topic-specific sessions as well as online programs such as MyDESMOND, Baby Steps and Let’s Prevent. All of our diabetes workshops and webinars are FREE to NDSS registrants and Diabetes WA members and DO NOT count as a Medicare allied health visit.
Read the full study here.
Cited: Jedidiah I. Morton & Jenni Ilomӓki & Dianna J. Magliano & Jonathan E. Shaw