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New study: Room for improvement in the care of type 2 diabetes – only half of patients receive effective treatment in Finland

One in ten Finns have diabetes, and over 373,000 people with diabetes are covered by the medicine reimbursement system. The quality of care has a significant impact both on the quality of life of affected persons and on the costs for the healthcare system. However, according to a groundbreaking patient survey, there is significant room for improvement in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.


Diabetes is estimated to shorten the patients’ life by up to 10 years1. Effective treatment is crucial: its impact on life expectancy is greatest in patients with a younger age of onset who develop comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and eye or nerve damage. Diabetes is estimated to cause about 15% of the national healthcare expenditure in Finland2. Therefore, investing in the effectiveness of treatment is key in curbing the costs of the disease to society.

However, a recent patient survey found that there are shortcomings in implementing the treatment. The ‘Diabetes Insights: patient Survey to evaluate Care Optimization in Finland, DISCO’, was carried out by the Finnish Diabetes Association and Boehringer Ingelheim in collaboration with Oriola and the Association of Finnish Pharmacies. The survey highlights areas of improvement in targeting treatment, successfully involving patients, and supporting self-care. Nearly 100 pharmacies belonging to Oriola’s research pharmacy network participated in the collection of the survey data. The survey was answered by more than 1,000 people with type 2 diabetes who used diabetes medication other than insulin alone.

According to the survey, three out of four patients with type 2 diabetes are at high risk of heart and kidney disease. According to the Finnish guidelines, these patients should receive diabetes medication that protects against heart and kidney disease, even when the patient’s long-term blood sugar levels are on target. Despite this, less than half of respondents at high risk for cardiovascular events were receiving an antidiabetic of this type.

Taking individual needs into account promotes effective care

In addition, the survey highlights an evident need to involve people with type 2 diabetes in their care plan. Only one third of respondents were aware of having a written care plan. In addition, the time since the patients’ last appointment was the same regardless of their individual risk level.

Identifying each patient’s individual risk and need for care is key to allocating resources and targeting interventions to improve the cost-effectiveness of care. The population is ageing and the need for care is increasing, making individual targeting of care and its cost-effectiveness even more important.

“It is important to take the patient’s perspective into account when studying the effectiveness of pharmacotherapy in order to gain comprehensive information about treatment practices and treatment adherence. Oriola’s network of research pharmacies is an internationally unique ready-made research environment for collecting patient-reported information. Our research collaboration with pharmacies supports value-based healthcare and knowledge-based decision-making in care planning,” says Timo Purmonen, Head of Data Driven Business and Market Access at Oriola.

The results of ‘Diabetes Insights: patient Survey to evaluate Care Optimization in Finland’ are presented in more detail in a research article published in the in the Finnish Medical Journal (Lääkärilehti, in Finnish) on 26 January 2023.

Other sources

1 National_Service_Framework_for_Diabetes.pdf (
2 Current Care Guideline on type 2 diabetes (in Finnish only) Tyypin 2 diabetes, Käypä hoito -suositus