Diabetes – It’s not just numbers.

I had another conversation yesterday with an entrepreneur who has an innovation to support the management of diabetes. This is not uncommon, on average I spend half my working week speaking to, or working with entrepreneurs working in this field, with approximately 2 new potential clients for the same market making contact each month.

Logically, why wouldn’t you want to focus you time on diabetes. As a long- term condition diabetes mellitus is a priority area for the NHS, with treatment and management of the condition potentially impacting on all 5 domains of the NHS Outcomes Framework.

The Size of the UK Diabetes Market
Size of market would be another reason for focussing commercial attention, with 3.8 – 4.5 million people over the age of 16 in the UK living with diabetes in 2015 – that’s approximately 9% of the adult population, with potentially 25% of these people not realising that they have this condition.

[Ref: Public Health England 13th September 2016 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/38-million-people-in-england-now-have-diabetes; https://www.diabetes.org.uk/professionals/position-statements-reports/statistics/diabetes-prevalence-2016

Complications associated with diabetes add more statistics:
Diabetic foot ulcers – it has been estimated that between 5% and 7% of people with diabetes have current or previous foot ulceration. Diabetes is the most common cause of non-traumatic limb amputation, with diabetic foot ulcers preceding more than 80% of amputations in people with diabetes.
[Ref: Operational Delivery of the Multi-Disciplinary Care Pathway for Diabetic Foot Problems April 2016 https://www.diabetes.org.uk/resources-s3/2017-09/030416%20DiabeticFoot%20FINAL%20pdf.pdf

One-third of all community-based diabetic patients have painful neuropathy symptoms, regardless of their neuropathic deficit.

[Ref: Prevalence and characteristics of painful diabetic neuropathy in a large community-based diabetic population in the U.K. Abbott CA et al Diabetes Care. 2011 Oct;34(10):2220-4. doi: 10.2337/dc11-1108. Epub 2011 Aug 18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21852677

Renal impairment is another potential complication, with one study identifying 29% of Type 2 patients experiencing renal impairment by 15year follow-up.

[Retnakaran R, Cull CA, Thorne KI (2006) Risk factors for renal dysfunction in type 2 diabetes: U.K. Prospective Diabetes Study. Diabetes 74: 1832–9]

Cost of Current Treatment
The cost of diabetes to the NHS is over £1.5million an hour or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales. This equates to over £25,000 being spent on diabetes every minute. [Ref: http://www.diabetes.co.uk/cost-of-diabetes.html]

With this in mind every entrepreneur working within diabetes can potentially identify a position where their product can both save money and improve outcomes.

But it’s not about the numbers
Inventors, entrepreneurs, clinicians are all people, with families, friends and loved ones. With 9% of the population impacted by this disease, we all know someone who lives, or has lived with diabetes. As people we are motivated to help others, and reduce the pain and suffering that we see these people living with every day. We see families torn apart by worry, stress and bereavement, and want to make a difference. Diabetes is a vile, insidious disease that attacks the body from within, and can have a devastating effect on quality of life for patients and their families. Fighting diabetes, and helping patients manage their disease better, to live longer, happier lives makes sense whichever way you look at it.

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