Leslie Eiland, MD, describes the importance of learning from the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to ensuring continuous care for those with type 1 diabetes (T1D) during future pandemics.
We have a lot to learn when it comes to providing continuous care to vulnerable patients with type 1 diabetes in rural America during a health crisis, said Leslie Eiland, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
How can the United States better prepare for the next pandemic with regard to ensuring a seamless continuation of care to vulnerable populations in rural areas?
I think we have a lot to learn and I think it's very important to reflect on this last year and figure out what went well and what did not go well. I do feel like, I think audio-only visits are something that have been discussed and are being debated in terms of whether they should be covered. I don't particularly enjoy doing audio-only visits or phone calls with my patients. But I have found that they have been needed over this last year, when in the spring, when our clinic was just not seeing anyone in-person, an in-person visit wasn't even an option. But then during other peak COVID-19 times or winter weather when my elderly patients didn't have to drive to the visit. I do think continuing to allow audio-only visits [is] important.
Another thing that my patients have struggled with is when they have a piece of diabetes technology covered by CMS, and they need to be seen at these regular intervals, like every 3 months. The phone visits have also been very helpful. When we weren't seeing people in clinic or when the weather is bad patients can get, my parents get very stressed out about needing to have this visit at a certain increment, otherwise they're not going to get their insulin pump or sensor supplies until after their visit, and they're going to run out and that's dangerous. So continuing to have these audio-only visits is an option I think is important.