Battling Liver Disease in Health Care Provider Settings
December 9, 2019
Today’s healthcare providers (HCPs) are well aware of the staggering number of patients who are obese and have Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). But they should also be on high alert for the associated onset and prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Diabetes remains a significant contributor to advancing fibrosis and NAFLD, a condition in which excess fat is stored in the liver and is more common in people who have obesity and T2DM. In fact, NAFLD is present in 40 to 80% of people who have T2DM and in 30 to 90% of people who are obese.
In research that tested for NAFLD in people who were severely obese and undergoing bariatric surgery, more than 90% of the people studied had NAFLD. Studies also suggest that people with NAFLD have a greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease, the most common cause of death in people who have NAFLD.
Fortunately, this disease can be reversed through diet and lifestyle modification if caught in the early stages, potentially avoiding progression to more severe forms of liver disease. Educating patients and adopting innovative technology are the first steps towards thwarting this epidemic in the primary care setting.
Quick, Painless Assessment with FibroScan
HCPs can help patients adopt preventive lifestyle changes and incorporate examination technology into their practice to non-invasively and quickly make a quantitative assessment of liver stiffness and fat at the point-of-care.
FibroScan, a painless, two-minute examination, can be utilized as part of an overall workup to help diagnose NAFLD early on. It can be performed in the doctor’s office as part of an annual exam and is covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance plans.
What’s more, The American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines recommend screening patients with T2DM for NAFLD. While the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) does not currently recommend routine screening for NAFLD or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), it does recommend FibroScan as part of an overall approach to identifying patients with liver disease.
Adopting tools like FibroScan can also help HCPs meet the “Triple Aim” of improving the patient experience of care (including quality and satisfaction), enhancing the health of populations and reducing the per capita cost of health care.