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Diabetes consultations, management likely to go phygital: Kantar study

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Nearly 1/3rd of study respondents who own a glucometer purchased it after the pandemic struck

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 noncommunicable diseases. Though life is gradually coming back to normal, the last six 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 hospitalised for COVID-19.

The Kantar study covered 300 Type 2 diabetes patients across 12 cities, with all respondents belonged to NCCS A (upper socio-economic class).

60 per cent 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 per cent)

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 per cent people consulted their physician in the period (April – September 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 with video/ virtual consultations using digital apps showed a sharp rise from 3 per cent pre-COVID to 13 per cent during COVID. Apart from using apps, increasing number of patients have also resorted to texting doctors on WhatsApp (10 per cent pre-COVID, up to 26 per cent during COVID)

However, only 5 per cent people have used specialised 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 as less than 10 per cent claim to have used any health app for diabetes management.

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