Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the US, affecting 11.3% of the population, or 37.3 million individuals, according to the CDC. Due to poor adherence to their treatment plan, noncompliance with doctor visits, or a general lack of information about their illness, many people with diabetes have sub-optimal control of their disease. Diabetic patients need an efficient and unique chronic care management plan that focuses on the areas stated above in order to manage their disease appropriately – a perfect use case for telehealth.
As of 2022, 37 million Americans had diabetes, and this number is not expected to decrease. Diabetes is the ninth most common disease in the world according to the World Health Organization, and it is the ninth largest cause of death worldwide. Diabetes patients deserve the best treatment possible, but due to the overwhelming quantity, it is impossible to keep track of all of their biometric data, blood sugar levels, and insulin dosage. But in recent years, technology has stepped up, bringing remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems that let medical professionals offer patients higher-quality care than ever.
Telehealth can be a useful resource for diabetes patients and their doctors, just like it can for people with other chronic conditions including CHF, COPD, and hypertension. Improvements in HbA1c and comorbidities, patient self-management abilities, positive behavior change, increased access to treatment, and patient adherence can all be achieved by incorporating telehealth and RPM into the management of diabetes. The following benefits come from using telehealth and RPM into diabetic care management:
1. Improved HbA1c
A patient’s blood sugar can be tracked and trended by providers who use telemedicine and RPM, and they can respond to any changes in the patient’s blood sugar more quickly. The HbA1c is the most reliable gauge of how well a patient is following their treatment plan and objectives. Targeting a fasting blood sugar (BS) of 130 or less and a postprandial BS of no more than 180 is advised by the American Diabetes Association. The recommended aim of a HbA1c of 7 or less, or an average BS during the last three months of roughly 150, can be reached by carefully monitoring and regulating those parameters.
Significant comorbidities are common among diabetics, which can have a negative influence on both their diabetes and general health. 73.6% of people with diabetes who are 18 years or older and have the condition also have hypertension. RPM enables healthcare professionals to keep an eye on their patients’ blood pressure in real time, enabling them to manage their symptoms and overall health.
Depression is another typical complication of diabetes. People with diabetes are 2-3 times as likely than people without diabetes to experience depression. In addition to the several causes mentioned above, depression can be addressed and tracked online using telehealth.
2. Gather real-time data
The RPM system provides information about the patient’s ongoing health. Before the advent of remote patient monitoring, clinicians would only learn whether a diabetic patient was non-compliant or at danger of problems after the patient encountered a serious issue that necessitated an urgent visit or hospitalization. Patients frequently wait until the condition has worsened to the point where a significant medical intervention is necessary
3. Minimize readmissions
Prior to recently, Medicaid and Medicare fines for readmissions following hospital stays were $528 million annually. RPM solutions, however, have in some instances reduced readmissions by as much as 50%. Every clinician’s deepest aspiration is to see their patients flourish, so finding a tool that accomplishes this is like finding their unicorn.
4. Improved Patient Self-Management
Telehealth is a potent self-management tool. Successful patient self-management and patient involvement are essential to controlling chronic disease. Smoking cessation programs, teach-back quizzes, disease-specific video instruction (medication and nutritional education), and other educational resources are useful tools to encourage patients to improve their self-management abilities.
To prevent diabetes complications, it’s crucial to follow a personalized diet plan, engage in physical activity, abstain from cigarette use, take medications as prescribed, and routinely check blood sugar levels. By offering information on nutrition and quitting smoking, enabling activity tracking with wearables, facilitating virtual consultations with experts, and hosting sessions with coaches and nutritionists, telehealth aids patients in retaining and maintaining these practices.
5. Increased Adherence
The management of diabetic treatment depends heavily on adherence. Patients who follow their care plan are more likely to experience favorable outcomes and prevent disease complications. To effectively treat their condition, the patient needs be behind the wheel, yet telemedicine makes sure they are at ease.
According to a recent randomized controlled experiment, telemedicine can increase type 2 diabetes patients’ adherence to treatment plans. By making it simple for patients to report their daily blood glucose measurements and by facilitating frequent communication between patients and the nurse case manager, telehealth enhanced adherence. The telehealth technology also made it possible for nurses to react swiftly to a patient’s condition and titrate medicine as required.
6. Expand access to care
Diabetes is a non-discriminatory illness that affects people from all socioeconomic backgrounds and financial levels. Due to transportation and budgetary issues, many patients are unable to attend frequent in-person doctor visits. Even the most isolated patients and those with limited mobility can benefit from improved access to care thanks to remote patient monitoring. Additionally, it lowers the inconvenience for patients and the expenses for travel, parking, child care, and time off from work.
Incorporating telehealth into diabetes care management can improve adherence, access to care, and the way symptoms are treated. It can also help people make changes to their behaviors and way of life. Telehealth can also lower expenses for the healthcare system while improving clinical effectiveness, clinical decision-making, and patient-self management skills.
Telehealth is unquestionably a no-brainer for a patient population whose outcomes so obviously depend on self-management and physician contact and involvement.