How Goa’s digital approach to diabetes can improve universal healthcare

When it comes to public healthcare, resources are often constrained. Intelligent and efficient resource management is, therefore, vital to sustain healthcare programmes. But this prompts a critical question: how should policy-makers identify the areas for additional care and prioritize within these areas?

Digital technology can play a crucial role in this context, acting as a bridge between the healthcare worker providing support on the ground and the policy-maker assessing investment needs in a government office. It’s also a place where an external expert can act as a knowledge partner to truly support public healthcare objectives.

In 2018, when we at Novo Nordisk renewed our Changing Diabetes Barometer (CDB) programme with the government of Goa, we were fully aligned with the state’s healthcare ambitions. Though one of India’s smallest states, Goa is the richest in terms of GDP. With a progressive outlook on citizen welfare, it’s committed to universal health coverage, especially in chronic care. The government’s belief is that making the right healthcare investments early on is in the best interests of not only the citizen-patient but also the economy and future of the state.

The CDB initiative is designed to improve the lives of people with diabetes in India and reduce the costs associated with this progressive, chronic disease. As such Novo Nordisk provides a comprehensive range of therapies which are made available to Goans free of charge through health centres throughout the state. We also provide intensive counselling on diabetes care. Thus our global expertise in diabetes management is employed to efficiently support the administrative resources of the state government.

Given the chronic nature of diabetes, however, constant follow-up is critical to managing the level of control and preventing complications. Here, digital technology provides an optimal solution for tracking and management for the patient, the doctor and the policy-maker.

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Disease registries are a searchable list of all patients with a particular chronic condition that often interfaces with an electronic medical record. The digital diabetes registry that we have enabled for the Goan government collates and links doctors to patients’ care history and provides vital information about their condition to doctors.

The critical impact of the registry will be the timely identification of high-risk sub-populations, permitting the doctor to intensify treatment to improve outcomes and avoid the development of complications of the disease. It will also provide policy-makers with a future-proof analysis of the investments required to provide the best support to citizens. Analysing medical history trends will enable policy-makers to identify areas that require additional support and make the right investments in advance. Importantly, this will, in turn, ensure that the state stays true to its commitment to continued universal healthcare coverage.

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