Telehealth and the management of diabetes is one of the areas where telemedicine has already proven to be highly effective in achieving better patient outcomes than with traditional care. There have literally been hundreds of randomized clinical trials conducted on the effectiveness of telehealth with regard to managing diabetes. Evidence garnered from these studies shows greater effectiveness in lowering A1C scores for diabetes patients, and that these lower scores can be sustained over a period of time.
Just as important, the cost-effectiveness of carrying out a telehealth program of monitoring critical diabetes factors is advantageous for both patient and for the medical facility. Once a facility has been set up for telemedicine, the platform for monitoring patients has been shown to be highly feasible and highly effective for the delivery of healthcare. Given the general success of telehealth and the management of diabetes, a new area of research has taken the next logical step, and is exploring ways to reach out to patients who lack access to healthcare in general.
Why telehealth is so effective at managing diabetes
The relationship between telehealth and the management of diabetes aims at lowering the number of adverse events, improving patient adherence to medications, achieving better patient outcomes, and reducing medical costs. According to the US Pharmacopeia Medication Errors Reporting Program, roughly 50% of all drug errors which occur in this country are attributable to insulin, and 97% of these errors occur as a result of self administration by patients.
Given the fact that treating diabetes carries an annual cost of $176 billion annually, and that more than 29 million patients require treatment, it’s easy to see how any improvement in delivering healthcare to diabetes patients can have an enormous financial impact. One of the reasons why telehealth can have such a tremendous impact on managing diabetes is the fact that daily insulin management must be carried out by patients themselves.
Many patients are afraid to administer their own insulin for fear of making a critical mistake, and as a result nearly 40% of them fail to take their daily prescribed dosages. This is where telemedicine can step into play a strong role in improving patient outcomes. Tools used in telemedicine can provide real-time feedback which will help patients carry out treatment plans more accurately and more effectively.
At the same time, medical personnel can monitor crucial data which is transmitted back to the facility, such as insulin dosages, glucose levels, and rates of adherence. This goes a long way toward helping patients manage their own conditions and to promote better patient engagement. It also allows clinical pharmacists to carry out interventions with patients, which in turn brings about positive behavioral changes and helps to maintain healthier A1c levels.
Results from six studies
Research which was conducted on the results of six separate studies that sought to determine the impact of telehealth and the management of diabetes, showed similar effective results from all six. In each of the studies, interventions with patients were conducted to help patients manage their diabetes better, after which researchers monitored A1c levels, so as to determine the effectiveness of the original intervention.
In every case, it was found that A1c levels were lower following the intervention, than those levels reported by patients in control groups. In many cases but not all, it was also found that patients in the intervention groups experienced lower levels of lipoprotein cholesterol, body mass index, and blood pressure. It should be noted that some patients found it difficult to carry out self-management because of difficulties encountered with telehealth monitoring equipment.
This is an indicator that simplified technology may be necessary in the future to achieve the kind of results which could be even more effective for patients. However, the impressive results achieved in these six studies should make it clear that telehealth and the management of diabetes is an area worthy of greater exploration and of greater investment.
If your medical facility is interested in achieving some of the benefits gained by telehealth and the management of diabetes, you should contact Encore Telemedicine as soon as possible. Our company provides virtual staffing solutions for medical centers around the country, and especially in the area of diabetes management, telehealth can prove to be a real boon to your practice, and to your family of patients.