Health Quality Ontario (HQO) released its final recommendation in favour of publicly funding continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for people with type 1 diabetes who have either severe low blood sugar or low blood sugar unawareness and who are willing to use the technology continuously.
“HQO’s recommendation is a positive step forward to helping more people optimally manage their diabetes,” says Dr. Jan Hux, president of Diabetes Canada. “Diabetes Canada urges the Government of Ontario to accept this recommendation and for the rest of Canada to do the same.”
CGMs use a small sensor under the skin to measure a person’s blood sugar every few minutes. These devices can assist people in avoiding or reducing the impact of very serious low blood sugar, helping them to treat a low before it becomes severe or before they become acutely ill and unable to manage by themselves due to confusion or loss of consciousness. With proper education and if used consistently CGM has the potential to prevent life-threatening emergencies.
However, CGMs typically range in price from $3,000 to $6,000 a year, putting the technology out of reach for many people who would benefit from it. Currently, only the Ontario Disability Support Program publicly funds CGMs.
Some private insurers provide CGM coverage for a broader demographic of people with diabetes than the group identified under HQO’s recommendation. This coverage is beneficial in that it allows more people, including children, to stay longer within their optimal blood sugar range. “There’s also an opportunity to increase private insurance coverage of CGM, which combined with the implementation of the HQO recommendation will improve access to diabetes technology and health outcomes,” says Hux.
The HQO report notes, “adult patients and parents of children with type 1 diabetes have had very positive experiences” with CGM. Parents who were interviewed noted that CGM allowed for better blood sugar control and effectively alerted them when intervention was needed. Additionally, this technology provides parents with blood sugar levels at any moment in time without doing a painful finger stick test.
Health Quality Ontario’s recommendation was made under the guidance of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee. The recommendation and full report can be found here.
Diabetes Canada looks forward to meeting with the Government of Ontario to discuss its anticipated response to HQO’s recommendation and learn more about the next steps and timelines.
About Diabetes Canada
Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:
- Resources for health care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
- Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
- Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.
For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).