More than 86 million people, including 22 million people 65 or older, have pre-diabetes, which increases their risk of heart disease, strokes or diabetes. As we’ve watched that number grow, it has somehow felt that despite billions of dollars of research and intervention, there’s little we can do.
That feeling shifted last week when Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, announced that Medicare was planning to pay for lifestyle interventions focusing on diet and physical activity to prevent Type 2 diabetes. It’s an example of small-scale research efforts into health services that have worked and that have expanded to reach more people.
Articles appear every day on “major breakthroughs,” which later never pan out, while this one, full of successes, rarely made the news. This is the curse of health services research, which seeks to improve population health through improvements in access or delivery of care. When most people think of diabetes research, they’re thinking about a cure or a new medication. Those grand slams are exciting, but they rarely happen. Nevertheless, people want to see them. Donors want to support them. Organizations hire people to go after them.
– The New York Times