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Aetna International

Diabetes: the world’s weightiest problem

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With the global incidence of diabetes doubling from 1989 to 2014, the disease has heavily impacted the health care system, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A cover photo of Aetna International's white paper, "Diabetes: the world's weightiest problem."

Click to read Aetna International’s white paper.

Aetna International believes battling the disease through a comprehensive care management program can help members better manage their condition and increase medication adherence to live healthier lives.

In a June 2017 white paper called, “Diabetes: the world’s weightiest problem,” Aetna International calls for the revolutionizing of how health care is managed and delivered for diabetes patients. The white paper also describes how Aetna International is identifying members and providing them with tailored support and using technology to help them track and understand their condition.

Aetna International has also developed innovative tools, such as a new virtual care service that allows access to end-to-end medical services and provides individuals with access to a uniquely integrated healthcare journey.

“We believe that by fundamentally changing the way health care is managed and delivered, innovation and technology can help to turn the tide – not just on diabetes but also on a spectrum of other diseases and conditions,” said Mike Delamere, regional general manager of the Americas for Aetna International. “We are calling for others to join us in revolutionizing the global healthcare system.”

The white paper also includes details of various studies, such as an Aetna International study of the Americas population in 2014 that found the costs of early detection and disease management strategies are far lower than costs associated with acute inpatient hospital treatment for diabetes.

That study found a 15.4 percent increase in retinal eye exams and a 9.2 percent increase in screenings for kidney disease among members with diabetes.

The white paper examines the various factors contributing to the rise of diabetes. The WHO estimates 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014. Urbanization, or the shift towards less physically demanding jobs and increased access to cars, computers, television and fast food, plays a role in the rise of obesity – a precursor to diabetes.

With increased prevalence, diabetes heavily impacts the health care system. In 2016, diabetes’ direct annual cost was $827 billion, according to the WHO’s Global Report on Diabetes.

Taking a holistic approach addressing the diabetes epidemic in the world will allow people to be educated and receive the proper screenings, treatment, support and follow-ups, according to Aetna International’s white paper.

“We need to create a world in which communities and schools teach good nutrition and encourage active lifestyles, where food producers and restaurants offer healthy food as default choices and where medical professionals are trained and equipped to diagnose and treat all forms of diabetes,” the white paper states. “And we need to transform the health care ecosystem for individuals around the world, bringing together health care providers, employers and benefits and services partners through virtual care for the benefit of individuals.”