Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose Levels: Evaluating the Impact of a Policy of Quantity Limits on Test-Strip Use and Costs
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OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the impact of new quantity limits for blood glucose test strips (BGTS) in August 2013 on utilization patterns and costs in the elderly population of Ontario, Canada. METHODS: We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional time series analysis of all individuals 65 years of age and older who received publically funded BGTSs between August 1, 2010, and July 31, 2015, in Ontario, Canada. The number of BGTSs dispensed and the associated costs were measured for 4 diabetes therapy subgroups-insulin, hypoglycemia-inducing oral agents, non-hypoglycemia-inducing oral agents, and no drug therapy-each month during the study period. We used interventional autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) models to assess the impact of Ontario's policy change on test strip use and costs. RESULTS: In the course of the study period, 657,338,177 test strips were dispensed to elderly patients in Ontario, at a total cost of CAN$482.3 million. Introduction of quantity limits was associated with significant reductions in the number of monthly strips dispensed and the associated costs (p<0.0001). In the year following the policy's implementation, test strip use decreased by 22.2% compared with the prior year (from 145,232,024 test strips to 113,007,795 test strips, a net decrease of 32,224,229 strips), resulting in a 22.5% reduction in costs (from $106.5 million to $82.6 million, a net cost reduction of approximately $24 million). CONCLUSIONS: The introduction of quantity limits, aligned with guidance from the Canadian Diabetes Association, led to immediate significant reductions in BGTS dispensing and costs. More research is needed to assess the impact of this policy on patient outcomes.
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