Managing diabetes during a pandemic presents unique challenges for patients. With so many changes to normal routines, it is important to identify a plan to maintain access to medications and devices for optimal control of diabetes. The keys to succeed during this time include advanced planning, identifying available resources, and communicating with your health care team.
With any emergency, it is important to plan ahead to avoid interruptions in therapy. Consider the below questions when developing your plan.
- Do you have refills available at your pharmacy/durable medical equipment (DME) provider?
- It is important to check packaging on medications and devices (ex. insulin vials/boxes, continuous glucose monitor [CGM] sensors) to ensure refills are available. You should check for refills at least one week before running out of medication to avoid interruption. Consider putting a reminder on your calendar to check for refills.
- Are you required to follow up with your healthcare team to receive medicines and supplies?
- Some insurance companies require documentation from healthcare providers for continuous approval of medications and devices. Changes in insurance coverage may prompt a change in diabetes treatments available for you. Contact your healthcare team to help.
- Are there changes in workflow at your preferred pharmacy?
- Although pharmacy is considered an essential service, be sure to confirm operating hours for your preferred pharmacy. Some pharmacies may have fewer hours of operation and less staff onsite to allow adequate social distancing and appropriate cleaning routines. Many pharmacies offer delivery at low or no cost for patient convenience to minimize trips to the pharmacy. Ask your pharmacist about these services.
Identify Available Resources
For many people around the world, the pandemic has caused significant financial strain. Patients with diabetes that are unemployed, under-employed or experiencing a change in insurance status may find it difficult to afford medications and supplies. The following resources can help alleviate financial strain.
- Manufacturer discount cards
- Discount pharmacies
- Patient assistance programs
- Low cost generic alternatives (if available)
Your healthcare team can help identify the best program for you to maintain control of diabetes during this time.
Communicate with your healthcare team
With changing routines, you may require an adjustment in your diabetes medicines and supplies. Be sure to attend scheduled appointments for diabetes management, and contact your healthcare team if you notice a change in glucose readings or symptoms. Your healthcare team is available to recommend medication adjustments and troubleshoot any financial hurdles. Since some provider offices have altered schedules for in-person appointments, it is important to schedule appointments in advance if possible. You may also consider using telemedicine appointments if appropriate.
By Alona Crowder PharmD CDE