ABU DHABI // Daman has enrolled 200 patients with diabetes in a "coaching" scheme to help them improve their health and reduce the long-term costs of treating them. The national insurance company selected Emiratis from the Thiqa insurance programme for nationals to receive mentoring and expert advice. If the pilot scheme is successful, Daman will enrol more patients and then extend it to other chronic conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
Dr Michael Bitzer, chief executive of the insurer, said: "What Daman is doing is implementing a commercial disease management programme. But we want to monitor the results as a clinical study, using international standards. It will take a minimum of two years to see results." Speaking during Daman's annual regional conference in Abu Dhabi, he added that the cost of treating a patient with diabetes with complications was five times higher than that of looking after a normally healthy person without the condition.
The coaches, who will be specially recruited and trained, will be in monthly contact with the patients. As well as offering advice on lifestyle, including diet and exercise, they will check that the patients are receiving regular medical attention and will also collect results from tests done to track the programme's progress. Dr Alfons Grabosch, manager in disease management at Daman, said the emphasis was on finding Emirati coaches.
"We are focusing on the relationship between the coaches and the patient," he said. "The trust between them is very important. Local coaches know the lifestyle; for the coaches to change the lifestyle they need to understand it." Dr Grabosch said he was expecting the results of all the data collected during the pilot scheme to be ready at the end of 2010. "We have already decided to have evaluators and we want to get hard data. This will be the first measure of outcomes according to international standards."