FOCUS OF THE WEEK
HIT, Telemedicine Could Be Cost-Effective In Diabetes Care
June 26, 2014, 10:38:28 AM
Katie Sullivan, MA
Adherence is important to improving the health outcomes of patients with diabetes.  Health technology and digital tools are just on way providers are encouraging patients to remain consistent with the treatment regimens.

Vivian Fonseca, MD, FRCP, a professor of medicine in the Endocrinology Department at Tulane University, for example, described recent findings surrounding a “diabetes remote monitoring system.”  The automated health technology software not only promoted patient adherence to their medications, but to their appointments and other healthcare-related needs.  While the technology didn’t help all patients, it generally showed to be cost-effective.

“We can effectively use this system on a fairly large scale. Once many patients are entered into the system, it becomes very cost-effective because the cost of the system remains static,” said Dr Fonesca. “With usual care, the more patients you see, the higher the cost in terms of seeing them in clinic and telephoning them for follow-up. Automated care therefore could produce some cost savings, which is important in healthcare reform. We want patients to have better outcomes, but it has to be in a cost-effective manner.”

Darwin Fogt, a physical therapist and founder of a company called eWellness, had similar outcomes with the utilization of health technology. His program also assisted providers and patients with the costs associated with diabetes management. Mr Fogt said that when combined together, telemedicine and physical therapy could prevent pre-diabetic patients’ conditions from worsening. Telemedicine, he argued, can reach a larger number of patients and engage them in making wiser decisions about their own healthcare. As with the monitoring program researched at Tulane, eWellness allows providers to remotely and digitally check-in with patients. Traditionally, providers or their staff perform patient care follow-ups in person or via the telephone. With technology such as mobile device applications, they can pinpoint patients who are most in need of an intervention.

“Our program could reach millions of people. If it can ensure compliance and adherence, we could make a big dent in the [future] diabetes population,” said Mr Fogt.

Around the Web

Remote Monitoring Could Be Cost-Effective in Diabetes Care [Medscape]

Entrepreneur Hopes Telemedicine + PT Will Stop Pre-Diabetes from Becoming Diabetes [MedCity News]