13 Oct Managing Diabetes with Mobile Medicine
Telehealth for diabetes is a great way to achieve tighter glucose control, reduced hospitalizations, improved clinical outcomes, and closer screening for the prevention of serious medical complications. Also called mobile medicine, telehealth home monitoring is a powerful tool that gives the doctor a window into patients’ homes so he/she can better understand what is happening.
Remote monitoring allows for the doctor to have access to a delivery system, and patients are able to participate in their care. In a study involving almost 200 patients who use telehealth services, researchers noticed a 92% decrease in hospitalization, 89% decrease in hospital length of stays, and a 67% decreased in emergency room visits. Doctors report that having this technology in the home allows them to talk with patients about their problems so they can collect additional information. Patients report feeling more connected and having more control over their disease.
How it Works
Each morning, patients check their pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and blood sugar levels. In addition, they answer various questions relative to diabetes complications on a small store-and-record unit in their home. The unit securely transmits data to nurses who are at a central location. If any data indicators are outside normal parameters, nurses can intervene with a telephone consultation or home visit. Also, the primary care provider is notified, either by direct contact or through the patient’s electronic health record.
Patients can be referred for telehealth services by their family practitioner, who can customized the monitoring and reporting to the patient’s individual needs. Before beginning home monitoring, the patient will receive instructions on how to perform daily assessments. While telehealth is not mean to replace doctors’ appointments, it can extend rural health providers’ capabilities. One centralized nurse can observe several patients, responding as necessary in a timely manner. Patients benefit because their physician can adjust diet and medications as needed.
To improve diabetes management, many healthcare facilities and organizations are using telehealth with underserved rural and urban populations. On the average around 15% of patients increase their physical activities, which is one of the hardest things for someone with diabetes to incorporate into their lifestyle. The patients use trackers that encourage physical activity, and patients receive daily instruction via text messages. In a new study, researchers found that patients experienced improved A1C measurements in a six-month time frame using telehealth.
In the U.S., diabetics incur medical expenditures of around $14,000 each year, and $8,000 of this is related to diabetes. Because telehealth is demonstrated as effective at reducing acute care hospitalizations, it is proven to lessen overall healthcare costs for the patient and society. With members of the population becoming more and more tech savvy, various types of telehealth applications will continue to increase.
Community Health Workers
Another form of mobile medicine that can assist with diabetes management is community health workers (CHWs). These providers usually work in their own communities, sharing economic, cultural, and linguistic characteristics with the patients they serve. Much research supports the use of CHWs in diabetes care. In a large systematic review, the roles identified of CHWs were patient care, support for care delivery, education, social support, and care coordination. Patients who used CHWs had improved knowledge of their disease, improved self-care, and enhanced self-monitoring.
According to research, CHWs can make a difference regarding patient lifestyle intervention. CHWs serve as healthy lifestyle coaches, and help patients improve physical activity and dietary scores, as well as improve their body mass indices (BMI). Many patients who use CHWs for diabetes management are able to decrease their insulin and medication requirements.