Using Telehealth to Provide Patient-Centered Diabetes Care

In January 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the 2022 National Diabetes Statistics Report. The report estimated that more than 130 million adults in the United States are currently living with diabetes or prediabetes. In 2019, over 1.4 million new diabetes cases were diagnosed among those people ages 18 and older. CDC also estimated that an additional 8.5 million people, or 23 percent, of adults are undiagnosed. These are alarming statistics about what should be a preventable and manageable disease.

One care strategy that has proven helpful in the fight against diabetes is patient-centered care. In December 2017, the American Diabetes Association’s publication, Clinical Diabetes, reported that, “Focusing on patients’ individual characteristics, needs, and treatment responses can improve compliance and clinical outcomes. Medication selection can be guided by the mechanisms of action, advantages, disadvantages, and costs of available options; patients’ behavioral and psychological variables, personal preferences, and socioeconomic status also should be taken into account.” The article provided an overview of patient-centered diabetes care, and outlined a case which illustrated the patient-centered approach in clinical practice.

While patient-centered diabetes care is useful in improving patient compliance, it does require a higher level of provider participation as well. One tool helping providers provide this care, without increasing the administrative burden, is telehealth. This article looks at how your independent practice can use telehealth to provide high levels of patient-centered diabetes care.

What is Telehealth or Telemedicine for Diabetes?

The term telehealth is sometimes used interchangeably with telemedicine. The American Academy of Family Physicians defines telemedicine as the overreaching process of using technology to deliver medical care at a distance, while telehealth refers more broadly to the electronic and telecommunications technologies used to provide that care. These technologies might include remote patient monitoring, a patient portal, and HIPAA-compliant and secure messaging or an online appointment. In conjunction with in-person visits, telemedicine can be used effectively to monitor, communicate with, and educate the portion of your patient population that requires diabetes care.

Can Telehealth Be Used To Provide Care For People With Different Types Of Diabetes?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “diabetes is one of the best-suited conditions for telehealth, and telehealth can be used to provide care for any type of diabetes.” Managing the major types of diabetes – Type 1, Type 2, gestational, and prediabetes – relies a great deal on timely data and a strong health-coaching relationship between health care professionals and their patients. These goals can be easily achieved by instituting a telehealth program for diabetes in your private practice. Modern telemedicine solutions provide increased access to remote-generated patient data, and increased access to meet patients where they are and deliver care in a more convenient manner.

The Benefits of Patient Engagement - Why Is It Important?

Patient engagement is the foundation for good care and wellness. Physicians and healthcare organizations cannot force patients to comply with medical treatments. They can’t magically impart the knowledge to control and monitor their own health concerns. The only way to make sure that patients are active participants in their own well-being is by actively encouraging and cultivating patient engagement.

It’s a fundamental right for patients to understand their unique health situation to make informed choices about their care. This is just as true in preventing possible future disease and illness as it is in the case of terminal patients.

Patients who are engaged make more informed daily choices about their health. They are fully aware of the dietary choices they make and when they’re more informed, they’re more likely to make better choices. Engagement also helps patients to build more trust in their physicians and more self-confidence. These patients are more likely to recognize symptoms for early detection of ongoing conditions and they’re more likely to voice concerns with their physician.

The additional knowledge also alleviates the fear that many patients face. This may make them less likely to avoid seeking medical attention when they do have symptoms or issues.

What Kinds Of Diabetes Care Can Be Delivered Via Telehealth?

Telehealth can be used to deliver many kinds of virtual care for diabetes patients, including:

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) of Self-Management Adherence

Information about glucose levels is transmitted to the provider for review and possible interventions. Medication levels can be adjusted accordingly, and providers can schedule an in-person or video visit if they feel one is warranted.

Health Changes

Telehealth enables providers to be on the lookout for changes in patient data or emotional levels, which may signal a turn in the course of their disease management.

Emotional Support

Diabetes is a disease that requires constant attention and diligence on the patient’s part. This can become tiring or frustrating for some patients. With a patient-centered program, the provider can look for clues with patients who may be struggling, and offer advice or support options.

Adolescent Care

Juveniles with diabetes can be harder to manage, due to their varied activities and lower levels of understanding. Telehealth software enables practices to provide school-based care for children to help monitor their levels and initiate appropriate interventions.

Communication

Telehealth provides a better flow of data, and allows for improved communication between patients and providers. The patient portal can be used by patients to transmit levels, check results, and ask quick questions, while telehealth visits can provide a crucial support service between in-person appointments.

Education

Constant awareness and education are necessary because of the ongoing care required for a chronic condition such as diabetes. A telehealth program for diabetes can be used to provide patients with the latest information on diabetic care.

Remote Populations

Diabetes can be harder to treat with older or remote patient populations. Telehealth can help bring these patients into better contact with your private practice.

How Is the Use of Telehealth To Deliver Diabetes Care Shifting During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Because of strict quarantine, social distancing and lock-down requirements, the use of telehealth to deliver diabetes care increased considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, many regulatory and insurance requirements were removed or adjusted to allow healthcare professionals to receive reimbursement for providing virtual care.

What Have Health Care Professionals Learned About The Benefits Of Using Telehealth To Deliver Diabetes Care?

As we begin to move beyond pandemic-related issues, providers can use the lessons learned to provide higher levels of personalized care for their diabetes patients. The ability to receive regular results, and view home living conditions might provide insights into tactics that can be used to keep patients more focused on managing their own care. Patients may find it empowering to be more in control of their care, and take on more responsibility for pre-appointment tasks.

Key Takeaways About Using Telehealth to Provide Patient-Centered Diabetes Care

Although some challenges might still exist in acceptance and implementation, telehealth can be a major foundational element of providing patient-centered diabetes care at your private practice. It makes it easier to keep track of crucial patient data, and for providers and patients to communicate about it. Patients who receive higher levels of attention to their specific needs and symptoms are more likely to become fully engaged in managing their own diabetes care. The result is a better quality of life for patients, but also the potential for a more reliable revenue stream for your independent practice.

Amazing Charts Helps Independent Practices Integrate Telehealth Support Services

To make the best use of telehealth to provide patient-centered diabetes care in your private practice, look for a provider that understands the needs of small- to medium-size private practices and has an established track record of innovative and helpful digital solutions. Amazing Charts was founded in 2001 by a practicing family physician, who was all-too-familiar with the challenges clinicians encounter on a daily basis. In 2017, Harris Healthcare acquired Amazing Charts to be the centerpiece of its healthcare group, which is comprised of several ambulatory care solutions.

We have grown consistently by creating easy-to-use solutions for delivering patient care and monitoring billing processes. Today, we offer a variety of capabilities to help small, independent practices succeed, including Electronic Health Records (EHR), Practice Management, Medical Billing Services, Population Health, Telehealth, and Remote Care. Call 866-382-5932 or visit our website to learn about our products, schedule a practice consultation, arrange a free trial, and find more information on how your private practice can use telehealth to provide patient-centered diabetes care.