Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) joined forces in 2016 to implement a pilot project known as ‘The SMART Clinic’. Two years later, more than 4,500 individuals who were identified as being at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes have been screened for the disease and those who were diagnosed are receiving treatment.
“Of those screened as part of the initial diabetes pilot project, 13% were diagnosed with diabetes, 21% were diagnosed as pre-diabetic, 80% were found to be overweight or obese, and 35% had borderline or high cholesterol levels.” said Dr Samya al-Abdulla, senior consultant family physician and executive director of Operations at PHCC.
‘The SMART Clinic’, also known as the ‘Al Wakra Diabetes Pilot’, is thought to be the first initiative of its kind in the world and was established to help Qatar alleviate the diabetes epidemic, HMC said in a statement. It aimed to restructure care pathways and improve the overall quality of care patients received by shifting the focus from treatment to prevention.
“In January 2016, the SMART team began comparing health records of individual patients to track diabetes-related risk factors, such as smoking, family history of diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Those deemed to be at high risk of developing diabetes, approximately 5,000 individuals, were identified and invited to be screened,” said Prof Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra, director of the Qatar Metabolic Institute (QMI) and chairman of Internal Medicine at HMC.
Prof Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra
Dr al-Abdulla led the programme on behalf of her organisation and said the initiative formalised an existing partnership while giving diabetes care providers a greater ability to deliver safe, high-quality care. She said the initiative demonstrates that primary and secondary care providers can effectively collaborate to improve the overall health of the population.
“A key purpose of this initiative was the early identification of preventable conditions, such as diabetes, as a strategy to maintain the health of the population and reverse the trend of high-cost long-term care required to treat these conditions. It is about ensuring care is provided at the right time, in the right setting,” added Dr al-Abdulla.
Professor Abou-Samra, who is also co-chair of the National Diabetes Strategy and led the pilot programme in Al Wakra on behalf of HMC, said screening results were delivered during follow-up appointments with multi-disciplinary teams of physicians, dietitians and health educators who provided guidance on how to manage the disease. He said patients were then directed to the right care pathway, as set out according to the National Diabetes Strategy.
HMC and PHCC provide care every month to over 30,000 patients with diabetes, with approximately 3,000 of those patients receiving specialised, complex care at HMC’s National Diabetes Centres in Al Wakra and Hamad General hospitals and the Diabetes in Pregnancy Clinic at the Women’s Wellness and Research Center.
In 2015, the Ministry of Public Health launched the National Diabetes Strategy, which aims to curb the rise in the incidence of diabetes and prevent the disease’s complications. The strategy includes the development of a care pathway, which places the patient within the healthcare system based on their stage of disease, co-morbidities, and the requirement for complex treatment.
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