Real-World Experience With Continuous Glucose Monitoring Is an “Eye-Opening” Experience

Opinion
Article

Most important of all, we gained a new level of empathy and understanding for patients diagnosed with diabetes whose diagnosis requires that they are constantly mindful and attentive to the balance of diet, exercise, and lifestyle in their day-to-day lives.

In general, pharmacy colleges do a great job preparing students to be pharmacists. I look back on my college experience as thorough, demanding, informative, and rewarding (shout out Toledo Rockets). However, despite the best efforts of college programs, there are some things you just cannot learn effectively from a classroom. For example, a pharmacy college can teach all about the treatments for diabetes, but would struggle to completely convey what it is like to live with diabetes every day from the patient’s perspective. So, when I and my Discount Drug Mart colleagues had an opportunity to “walk a mile in a diabetic patient’s shoes,” we jumped at the chance.

Many patients with diabetes need to monitor their blood glucose regularly. For a long time, the only way to do that was through the traditional finger stick, drop of blood, test strip method. In the past few years, a new technology has emerged, called continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). CGMs are wearable devices that monitor a patient’s blood glucose 24/7. The device then communicates that information to a sensor or smartphone app so the patient can easily see their glucose readings without the need for finger sticks. More importantly, the app will alert the patient to blood sugar spikes or dips, helping to avoid emergency situations. These devices provide valuable information to actively engage the patient in making informed decisions, which allow the patient to be in control of their health in between doctor visits, ultimately leading to better outcomes.

This past November, a CGM manufacturer gave us an opportunity to test out samples of their device. Given that diabetes is such a prevalent and complicated disease state, we are always looking at ways that we can better understand, treat, and advocate for these patients; and since November is National Diabetes Awareness month, the timing was perfect.

Images provided by Chris Peshek.

Images provided by Chris Peshek.

Several members of the Drug Mart Pharmacy Operations leadership team took the opportunity to wear a CGM. I speak for myself and my colleagues when I say that it was an eye-opening and educational experience. We gained practical knowledge of how the device works, how to pair it to your phone, how to apply it to your skin, and how it feels to wear it.

Furthermore, we gained an appreciation for how our own bodies process food and how that food affects our blood glucose. Most important of all, we gained a new level of empathy and understanding for patients diagnosed with diabetes whose diagnosis requires that they are constantly mindful and attentive to the balance of diet, exercise, and lifestyle in their day-to-day lives.

An example of high blood glucose readings | Images provided by Chris Peshek

An example of high blood glucose readings | Images provided by Chris Peshek

I can confidently say that the experience has made me a better pharmacist and more empathetic health care provider. The path of a patient with diabetes is not an easy one and requires constant discipline to achieve necessary goals. Wearable CGMs will empower the patient to understand their individual body and make adjustments to meet their goals. I look forward to exploring other opportunities in the future that will give me a glimpse into the patient’s first-hand experience.

About the Author

Chris Peshek, PharmD, RPh, is Director of Pharmacy Operations at Discount Drug Mart.

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