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Taking control of diabetes

I want to thank you for your informative, accurate and proactive article about diabetes [“Their Best Shot,” May 7]. The complications and statistics are gruesome and it is widely known within the Type 1 community that intensive management is the key to good health.

Two of my three children have Type 1. My son, now 18, was diagnosed when he was 4; my daughter, now 14, was diagnosed when she was 9.

We have benefited from amazing care at Children’s Hospital along with the support of Health Care Partners and Blue Cross of California. My children are healthy and happy, wear insulin pumps and lead active lives.

It is mind-boggling that medical providers and insurance companies do not support intensive care to avoid complications. Your article is the first that I have seen to actually address this issue. The incidence of complications is primarily related to inadequate management and you really get the point across that so few people get the care and education that they need.

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Thank you for taking the time to do the research and for getting it right.

BARBARA ANTONSSON

Pasadena

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Susan Brink’s article on preventive strategies to curtail and manage diabetes [“Prevention Pays, But Not in the Short Term,” May 7] was telling on many fronts.

A point of contention for some, according to the article, revolves around whether an investment in preventive care takes too long to pay dividends.

Our company, Healthways, has helped its customers (major health plans, employer groups and government agencies) save an estimated $3 billion in healthcare costs in the last decade -- and the savings began in Year One of our programs.

Our published, third-party peer-reviewed research shows that members who participated in our diabetes disease management program (regardless of age, demographic or socioeconomic standing) showed notable improvements in both testing and levels of key clinical indicators for blood sugars and cholesterol.

A landmark national study published in Health Affairs reported significant improvement in cost and quality of care for more than 43,000 members enrolled in a diabetes disease management program from 1998 to 2001. Average cost savings were 5% to 8%, much attributed to a decrease in hospitalizations.

The goal of healthcare should be not only to control and manage chronic disease conditions, but to stop disease in the first place. When that happens, the dividends are both immediate and sizable.

DEXTER SHURNEY

Nashville

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The writer is chief medical officer at Healthways Inc.


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