Diabetes Testing

Telemonitoring Proof

People with diabetes have been among the quickest to embrace the Internet. Their doctors have probably been the slowest.

This will change as soon as physicians catch on to the impact of a long-term study. This study compares the A1C levels of people with type 2 diabetes in an Internet-based glucose monitoring system with those in a control group.

I wasn’t a bit surprised that those people who had the advantage of online feedback from health professionals did a whole lot better. They also saved a lot of time, because they didn’t have to travel to the offices of their doctors and wait in their waiting rooms. This was no surprise to me because I had the same advantages when I participated in such a program.

What really caught my attention with this new study, however, is how much time this online program saved for the doctors. When doctors begin to digest this fact, they will wake up to the boon that the Internet can be for them.

Few doctors have read this study yet. It just appeared in the December issue of Diabetes Care, a professional publication of the American Diabetes Association.

A good friend of mine, one of the first doctors to read the study, just sent it to me. The whole study isn’t online, but you can read the abstract.

The key point of this long study comes near the end. “Physicians’ contact time was relatively reduced compared with face-to-face interview in the office,” it says, “probably because the physician can analyze well-arranged data and answer immediately.”

Physicians can monitor their patients’ blood glucose levels within a short time through an Internet-based glucose monitoring system. Since time is money for everyone, especially for doctors, everything else being equal we can expect to find doctors using the Internet more and more.

And everything else is not equal. The group of 40 people in the online intervention group had an average A1C of 6.7 after 30 months. They started with an average A1C of 7.7. That’s down one full point.

Meanwhile, the control group, also 40 people, ended up with an average A1C of 7.4 after 30 months. That’s 0.7 percent higher than those in the online group. Plus, they started with an average A1C of 7.5, which was 0.2 percent lower. That’s down one-tenth of a point.

The people in the online group did this: at their convenience they uploaded their blood glucose levels. They noted the medicines they were using, their blood pressure, and weight, and mentioned any changes in their lifestyle. They could ask any questions or detailed information that they wanted, like changes in diet, exercise, or hypos, that might influence their BG levels.

On the other end, a staff of endocrinologists, a nurse, and a dietitian looked at what their patients wrote and gave feedback every two weeks.

In contrast, the offline group went to the clinic every three months. They talked with their doctors.

I have written here about several online systems like this that people with diabetes can use. Most recently I wrote about GlucoCom Telemonitoring. Another such program is the GlucoDYNAMIX care management system, which I wrote about in my article on Wireless Monitoring.

People with type 2 diabetes can find great health benefits from using an Internet-based glucose monitoring system. Their doctors meanwhile can use their time more efficiently while helping their patients more. Everybody wins.

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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