Caitlin Gallant, a 22-year-old resident of prince edward island, felt that she had reached the limit in terms of what she could do to manage her type 1 diabetes and was looking for tools to help her become more proactive. Early in 2018, she began wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and found it gave her the information she needed.
“Knowing not only what your blood sugar is at any given moment, but also in what direction it is moving and how quickly, was a total game changer,” says Ms. Gallant. “Also, knowing that my family and I could monitor my blood sugar 24/7 and would be alerted to changes provided that extra bit of security and peace of mind.”
Wearable CGM devices monitor glucose levels every few minutes, day and night, and relay readings in real-time to a device such as a smartphone. The readings can show glucose highs and lows and how quickly levels are rising or falling. It helps people with diabetes take timely action to adjust medications, activity and food intake to help achieve healthy blood sugar targets.
There are a variety of these devices, including a variation called a flash glucose monitoring system, which provide an alternative to traditional monitoring with a finger stick test and a glucometer. A growing body of research demonstrates that they help people better manage their disease – improving health outcomes and helping patients avoid serious or life-threatening complications, such as low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
Individuals living with diabetes deserve to have timely and affordable access to the glucose monitoring method that suits their clinical needs, based on consultation with their health-care team.— Dr. Seema Nagpal vice president of science and policy with Diabetes Canada
The monitoring systems are relatively expensive, however, which is a matter of concern for Diabetes Canada. Until recently, no provinces included CGM coverage in their public health plans, and private insurance coverage varies.
Diabetes Canada’s advocacy to help more people with diabetes afford CGM systems paid off with a recent announcement from the Ontario Ministry of Health. Agreeing with a recommendation from Health Quality Ontario, which had input from Diabetes Canada clinical experts, the ministry included flash glucose monitoring systems under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program – for patients meeting specific criteria. The change took effect on September 16 of this year.
“This announcement expands glucose monitoring options for those who may not have been able to access this type of system. Many Ontarians will benefit from this announcement,” says Dr. Seema Nagpal, vice president of science and policy with Diabetes Canada.
Quebec is the only other province to publicly fund flash glucose monitoring systems, and Diabetes Canada is continuing to advocate for expanded CGM health-plan coverage across the country.
“Individuals living with diabetes deserve to have timely and affordable access to the glucose monitoring method that suits their clinical needs, based on consultation with their health-care team,” says Dr. Nagpal.
Produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.