Gabriela Allard
Director General
Mexican Diabetes Association
View from the Top

Technology Incentivizes Healthy Living for Diabetics

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 17:28

Q: What new efforts is the Mexican Diabetes Association developing for diabetes awareness programs?

A: Our main objective today is education so a factual change can occur in society. We cannot put the solution to diabetes in the hands of anyone else but the patient. Therefore, we created a new app that provides educational content about diabetes that can be downloaded with a basic Internet connection. The information covers nutrition, self-monitoring, exercise and the emotional management to follow a successful treatment. We do not only want to provide information but we also want to transform lives through education. It is true that physicians sometimes do not have time to educate patients so these tools are not meant to replace medical care but to help patients control their own condition. We are aware the app can be reached by a small percentage of the population but we will create other platforms for more people to have access to these courses.

Technology plays an important role in healthcare, and this app was fully developed by us with funding from Fundación Chespirito and Boston Scientific. The app takes the user to a webpage called Pacientes Como Yo (Patients like me), an online community in which patients share information on diagnostics and treatment, which is supervised by experts from Boston Scientific. We want patients to be proactive and participate in discussions about their disease. It is important to highlight the app is not intended to either measure glucose or keep a food journal. It only has educational content for diabetes type 2. Nonetheless, we will also coverdiabetes Type 1 and prenatal diabetes in the future. We are going to measure the acceptance level of the app among the population and we will subsequently do the necessary improvements. We are continuously looking for sponsors for the app and we are talking with several potential sponsors. Many people are stuck in the same speech and activities around diabetes so we wanted to create something innovative that could have a significant impact with the aid of technology

Q: What concrete public initiatives have you supported to improve patients’ quality of life?

A: Patients need to understand they can prevent complications, and handle acute situations. The obligation to provide education to patients has been left entirely to physicians, the government and sometimes the industry. As a civil association we are also responsible for this. Treatment for diabetes Type 1 is not guaranteed in public institutions so we created an alliance with Fundación Mídete, Fundación Fine and others, and submitted an initiative to the Senate for children to have access to full treatment for this disease in public institutions. Some of them are already providing treatment but they do not cover auto-monitoring, which is expensive since parents have to measure their children’s glucose 8-10 times per day. Achieving this in the public system is not easy. Diabetes Type 1 is a catastrophic disease accounting for up to 30 percent of the total income of a family and the industry is highly committed to supporting this initiative. Other Latin American countries such as Argentina, Chile and Uruguay already cover full treatment for diabetes Type 1. Glucose monitoring is also important during pregnancy because women’s health can be endangered and babies could be born with many health problems.

Not all associations achieve tangible results or remain active over the years. Sometimes we blame the Ministry of Health or the Government for the populations’ health and we are not assuming any responsibility ourselves. Diet and healthy habits are an individual choice so we have to work in conjunction with more parties to establish this mindset with interesting initiatives to start making a change in society. In the Mexican Diabetes Association, we aim to teach patients how to live healthy despite their condition, which subsequently gives them hope and the power to manage their own health. Chronic diseases are difficult to bear because they affect quality of life for the rest of people’s lives. Patients feel good one day and the next day they are at the hospital because glucose levels can easily fluctuate