Mumbai: Launched on World Diabetes Day, Kantar’s The D-Picture-COVID Edition Report indicates that a “Phygital” way of consultation may be the future trend in Diabetes management. While diabetics in India will continue to consult doctors face to face, the study points to an increased preference towards virtual consultation (including telephone and digital) during the pandemic, which is expected to continue into the future as well.
Since April 2020, COVID-19 has significantly impacted health services for non communicable diseases. Though life is gradually coming back to normal, the last 6 months have led to widespread disruption, especially in healthcare services. As diabetes patients are at high risk of developing complications due to COVID-19 infection, many of them have made permanent changes in their daily routine. 6 in 10 diabetics have expressed concern of catching the infection and getting hospitalized for COVID-19.
Understanding these and many more such areas of concern, is possible through the syndicated Kantar study covering 300 Type 2 diabetes patients across 12 cities. All respondents belonged to NCCS A (upper socio-economic class).
Highlights of The D-Picture: COVID Edition:
What makes Kantar’s ‘The D-Picture: COVID Edition’ most relevant is that it gives an in-depth understanding of patients’ attitudes, fears and challenges and their outlook to the future. It also carries insights into how patients have altered their consultation habits, frequency of blood sugar testing, consumption of protein powders and immunity boosters throughout pandemic; along with preference for online mode of communication to access healthcare services. Lastly, it highlights how the future of disease management is going to shape in the coming months.
Key highlights of the study:
- 60% of diabetics interviewed in the survey have shown high concern about their health due to COVID. This number is significantly higher than concerns about health amongst average Indian consumers (45%)
- The fear of uncontrolled blood sugar is significantly higher among people living in the big four metros. Insulin users have higher concern about blood sugars versus patients on oral therapy.
- Despite the lockdown, >70% people consulted their physician in the period (April – Sept 2020). People used virtual methods of consultations e.g. telephone, WhatsApp etc.
- The pandemic has also resulted in patients being more gluco-vigilant. Nearly 1/3rd of respondents who own a glucometer have purchased it after the pandemic struck, leading to more meticulous monitoring at home.
- Remote Patient Monitoring is on the rise with video/ virtual consultations using digital apps showing sharp rise from 3% pre-COVIDto 13% during COVID. Apart from using apps, increasing number of patients have also resorted to texting doctors on WhatsApp (10% pre-COVID, up to 26% during COVID)
- However, only 5% people have used specialized digital consultation platforms (e.g. Practo, Lybrate) during the pandemic.
- Though diabetes management has made a gateway to digital transformation; adoption of health apps for diabetes management is still at a nascent stage among diabetics. Less than 10% claim to have used any health app for diabetes management.
Speaking about the impact of the pandemic on people living with Type 2 diabetes, Gauri Pathak, General Manager (India), Health Division, Kantar said “While the pandemic has caused many disruptions in day-to-day lives, it has led to higher sensitivity towards health management, leading to better regimentation among diabetes patients. Also, openness to use telephone and digital media has increased and is likely to continue to be preferred in the near future”.