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HealthPartners Institute’s International Diabetes Center to study the patient-centered economic burdens of managing type 2 diabetes and whether continuous glucose monitors can ease patients’ financial stress

Recent supplemental funding will help researchers better understand ‘financial toxicity’ of diabetes management in addition to health outcomes

November 28, 2023

Nov. 28, 2023 – Minneapolis – People with diabetes spend more than double the amount on medical expenses than those without diabetes. But, could a promising new glucose monitoring technology help ease the economic burden that comes with the disease?

It’s an additional question that researchers with HealthPartners Institute’s International Diabetes Center hope to answer with $840,000 in supplemental funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

The new funding expands the scope of an existing study – which PCORI funded with $3.6 million in 2020 – that’s comparing the clinical effectiveness of finger-stick blood glucose monitoring and newer continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). It will enable the research team to collect data on patient-centered economic outcomes that individuals with diabetes and their families experience in addition to clinical and quality of life outcomes, such as blood sugar levels and care-related stress.

“Diabetes takes a lot of work to manage, and when it’s not managed optimally, it can lead to costly complications,” said Thomas Martens, MD, medical director at the International Diabetes Center. “We’re already looking at how CGM and traditional finger-stick glucose monitoring impact patients’ health, satisfaction with care, and other outcomes. Now, these supplemental funds will help assess costs associated with things like medications, hospitalizations, and other expensive complications.”

CGM: An antidote to ‘financial toxicity’?

Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) have historically been used to help patients with type 1 diabetes manage their disease. And, a growing body of research shows that the technology can help patients with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar, too.

But, questions remain about how CGMs and finger sticks compare in helping people achieve desired health and quality of life outcomes. It’s also unclear whether CGMs relieve the financial pressures that get in the way of managing the disease, an unfortunate reality known as ‘financial toxicity.’

The researchers will analyze financial toxicity measures that were originally developed in a population suffering from cancer and just recently validated for patients with diabetes. They’ll also review out-of-pocket costs incurred by patients with type 2 diabetes using CGMs versus those using the finger-stick method of measuring blood sugar. Then, using zip code and socioeconomic data, the researchers will explore how financial distress of diabetes management varies by community. To ensure the study addresses real-world concerns, it is informed by an advisory panel that includes patients with type 2 diabetes. These patient-researchers will help shape surveys to better understand how monitoring technologies impact day-to-day glucose levels, as well as the affordability of glucose monitoring and other less obvious financial burdens of the disease like missing work due to a disruption in diabetes management.

This work will help guide strategies for reducing the financial distress experienced by patients with diabetes, particularly those at greater risk and lower socioeconomic status. It will also help patients and those who care for them understand the health and quality of life outcomes associated with their options for glucose monitoring.

“By digging into this aspect of diabetes management,” Martens said, “we can help improve outcomes and affordability.”

About HealthPartners Institute

HealthPartners Institute is part of HealthPartners, the largest consumer governed nonprofit health care organization in the nation with a mission to improve health and well-being in partnership with our members, patients and the community. HealthPartners Institute supports this mission through research and education—advancing care delivery and public health around the globe. The Institute annually conducts more than 350 research studies and trains 700+ medical residents and fellows and 1,200+ medical and advanced practice students. Its integration with HealthPartners’ hospitals, clinics and health plan strengthens the Institute’s ability to discover and develop evidence-based solutions and translate them into practice. Visit for more information.

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