Telemedicine helps patients control diabetic symptoms

Rising level of diabetes in America have spurred The American Diabetes Association into action with the recommendation to healthcare organizations to utilize team-based approaches to maximize care. A study, published in NCMJ, evaluates the benefits telemedicine can bring to rural diabetic patients.

Funded by the Health Resources & Services Administration and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the study’s telemedicine program was offered at 13 sites in North Carolina. From 2013 to 2016, the program offered interdisciplinary care in physicians’ offices through telemedicine including a team of a clinical pharmacist, dietician, behavioral therapist, and diabetic specialist. The study focused on low-income rural patients.

Over the course of the study, researchers enrolled 365 patients for a total of 1,215 telemedicine visits. The average patient completed three to four appointments with the following results:

  • 92 percent of patients were “very satisfied” with their care.
  • 83 percent agreed telemedicine improved access to care.
  • 52.4 percent of patients reported depressive symptoms, 67 percent of these patients felt a decrease in symptoms after the study.
  • 47.6 percent of patients reported at least mild anxiety, 61.5 percent of theses patients reported a decrease in anxiety after the study.
  • Weight, blood sugar control and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were all significantly reduced after a year of enrollment.
  • In a separate assessment comparing telehealth to face-to-face visits, glycemic control was found to be similar in both groups.

“The interdisciplinary telemedicine diabetes team was both well received by patients and effective at improving patient outcomes comparable to an academic medical center,” concluded first author Ann Marie Nye, PharmD. “The pharmacist was an integral part of the team by assessing patient needs, providing education, and developing strategies to improve adherence.”