Dr Yehuda Handelsman: Discussing Insulin Perceptions With Patients

Patients have a number of concerns about insulin, including pain from injections and interference with their activities, said Yehuda Handelsman, MD, FACP, FACE, FNLA, medical director and principal investigator at the Metabolic Institute of America. However, clinicians must play an important role in explaining to patients how recent advances have made insulin delivery simpler and more convenient.

Patients have a number of concerns about insulin, including pain from injections and interference with their activities, said Yehuda Handelsman, MD, FACP, FACE, FNLA, medical director and principal investigator at the Metabolic Institute of America. However, clinicians must play an important role in explaining to patients how recent advances have made insulin delivery simpler and more convenient.

Transcript (slightly modified)

What are patient-reported insulin concerns, and how can we overcome them?

The main concern patients have is, first and foremost, the injection. They do not like injections. But not just liking that it’s painful could be the thing, but also the fact that they need to change their life around injection. In other words, they want it to time up when they eat, how they eat, when they get the injection. Maybe they have to change activities. Maybe they feel they cannot go out for dinner with friends, or at work for lunch, and so on. So it’s a whole big deal for them, the whole injections. And then comes the issue of low sugars, hypoglycemia.

So these are the main concerns that patients have. We need to reassure them, need to talk to them, need to explain to them that we’ve got various kinds of insulins right now, some of them longer acting. We also have inhaled insulin if we need to, which is not injections. The needles are very small right now, they’re very simple to give, and so a person can have a small pen which we’re using nowadays to give insulin, and with this pen they can carry it around.

The technology has changed, the type of insulin has changed, and the insulin and the way it’s delivered in 2016 is so much easier and simpler than the concept the patient had 10, 15, or 20 years ago how insulins work. It takes for the provider, the clinician, for the educator to just give them some more assurance how typically simple it is to deal with nowadays.