WEDNESDAY, July 7, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- While diabetes-related outpatient visits and testing fell during the pandemic, there was no negative association with medication fills or glycemic control among U.S. adults with diabetes, according to a research letter published online July 6 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Sadiq Y. Patel, Ph.D., from Harvard University in Boston, and colleagues used deidentified claims from OptumLabs Data Warehouse to identify adults with type 2 diabetes and continuous enrollment in commercial or Medicare Advantage health plans for 2019 (1,357,029 individuals) and 2020 (1,364,522 individuals).
The researchers found that across the entire pandemic period, adjusted use was lower in 2020 versus 2019 for outpatient visits (relative percent change, −2.6 percent), hemoglobin A1c testing (−6.5 percent), retinopathy testing (−18.8 percent), and nephropathy testing (−8.5 percent). However, medication fill rates were similar for the two time periods and levels of hemoglobin A1c were nearly identical for the two time periods.
"Mail-order pharmacies and pharmacy delivery services may have been key during the pandemic in ensuring patients receive their medications," the authors write. "Together, these would be consistent with diabetes disaster preparedness guidelines, which emphasize prioritizing access to medications over access to health care professionals during an emergency."