The new iControlDiabetes site is all about tools for doctors and their patients. It doesn't replace the doctor.
It's not telemedicine. "We don't treat the patient," explains CEO Barry Sender. "In telemedicine they take over the patient from the doctor. We think that's a fatal flaw. Any time you threaten the doctor's livelihood you're dead."
The key… is the dashboard
Instead, the goal of iControlDiabetes is to make primary care doctors and endocrinologists alike look smarter and be more efficient.
"We want our doctors to say, 'This doesn't cost me anything and it helps me get more minutes in my day, so of course I am going to use it,'" Barry says. "Endocrinologists, who have even less time, can also use this system."
Barry doesn't think that doctors or patients will pay for the system. But it can help insurers and drug companies who will.
"It will give a big advantage to HMOs and pharmaceutical companies," Barry says. "Pilot studies with HMOs are underway. And Roche wants people to use their meters."
iControlDiabetes has an agreement with Roche, which manufacturers the Accu-Chek Advantage. You can automatically upload your blood glucose readings from your Advantage to the iControlDiabetes site.
Endocrinologist Steven Edelman is a big supporter. A member of the iControlDiabetes medical advisory board and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Edelman says, "The site is especially valuable for the people living with diabetes as it will offer more and more appropriate information on how to manage their own diabetes."
The key iControlDiabetes chart is "the dashboard." This is a special report that summarizes your diabetes control and highlights areas for diabetes treatment improvement. They call them dashboards because they place all important information for diabetes control in one place like a car dashboard places critical data for driving—or controlling—the automobile directly in front of the driver. Basically graphical, the dashboard is a tool that patients and their doctors can easily interpret it.
Dashboards are highly customizable. If you log on as a patient, you will get the patient screen. If you log on as a doctor, you will get the doctor's screen with all his patient's dashboards. HMOs can set it up so that it will look like one of their screens.
The dashboard and indeed all of iControlDiabetes grew out of the medical practice of Dr. Jonathan Bortz, an endocrinologist practicing in Missouri. In 1992 he founded the Bortz Diabetes Control Center, which now has offices in St. Louis and St. Peters, Missouri.
From the first, "Dr. Bortz went against the grain to provide the gold standard of diabetes care," Barry recalls. "In the past five years he has treated more than 5,000 patients. In that time Dr. Bortz looked at what was the best way to treat them."
The clinic developed a form that you mail in that produces a graphical output for Dr. Bortz to look at. "And in a maximum of 60 seconds he could make a clinical decision about how that patient was doing," Barry says.
The patient also gets a copy of the report. "A little old lady of 80 would walk in with her report and say, 'Now, I understand what insulin at bedtime does for me,'" he says.
Dr. Bortz says that iControlDiabetes was born out of the clinical trenches—how to make it easier for the physician and to encapsulate the essentials for the physician and the patient. "Once I started using this system myself it became very awkward for me to go back to looking at numbers," he recalls.
Last February the Bortz Diabetes Control Center spun off Control Diabetes Inc., the parent company of iControlDiabetes. While Barry is the CEO, Dr. Bortz is the company's president. iControlDiabetes went live on the Internet in March.
While you can access the site through the Internet, it will meet you where you are. "If you are on the Internet great, if you want to use the telephone great, if you want to use a paper postcard because you have never used a computer before great," Barry says.
The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.
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