NYC wants to track 530,000 diabetics

The New York City Department of Health says they are dealing with an epidemic of diabetes cases which has led them to creating a central system for tracking residents who suffer from the disease.

The department is hoping to manage 530,000 diabetics in New York and focus on reaching out to the more than 250,000 undiagnosed cases.

The department proposes requiring laboratories in the city to enter the results of all hemoglobin blood sugar in a central electronic laboratory system, an unprecedented but needed step, said Dr. Diana Berger, medical director of New York’s diabetes prevention and control program.

They also want to collect the results of hemoglobin A1c tests, which measure the average level of blood sugar over several months.

If successful, they will be the first jurisdiction in the country that has ever attempted such a data collection effort – let alone on such a scale – the price the city and its citizens pay for diabetes calls for such an effort, Berger said.

Diabetes, the result of what Berger called “an obesity epidemic” causes nearly 2,000 deaths a year in the city, more than 1,700 amputations, as well as increased heart disease and kidney failures. Treating diabetics in New York has hit $7 billion, she said.

The department put the proposed mandate out for public comment July 7, Berger said.

If the Board of Health approves the mandate this fall, Berger said the 127 commercial and hospital labs in the city hooked up the Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS) run by New York State will have to start reporting the results of A1c tests to the department.

There are roughly 800 labs in the city but but results will only come from the ones that are connected to ECLRS and can submit reports via text file uploads.

Patient privacy is a key factor and is paramount in developing this diabetic registry.

Information in the registry will not be provided to other agencies or organizations, including insurance companies.

A pilot has already been launched in the South of Bronx which has 48,000 diabetics and many more undiagnosed.

The Pilot pilot intervention project, Berger said, plans to field a force of public health pharmaceutical salesmen, know as “detail men”, to call on clinicians in the South Bronx.

These detailers will provide information gathered from the ECRS reports to help clinicians better manage their diabetic patients.

The ECLRS reports will also allow the department to alert doctors whose patients A1C blood sugar levels have risen to eight per cent or above – followed by a letter to the patient. Patients can opt out of the project at any time, Berger added.

Berger is confident that this project will make a difference for diabetics and for the ongoing obesity crisis in New York City.

A mere 1% drop in A1c blood sugar levels can lead to a 35% drop in medical complications caused by diabetes, making this project a priority and a sure winner

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