HHS, AT&T and AADE launch mHealth Initiative

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS), the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and AT&T announced Monday an mhealth initiative to deliver diabetes self-management training.

The project will deliver diabetes self-management training (DSMT) project will be launched within an underserved minority community in Dallas, Texas.

AT&T said it  will contribute $100,000 to the AADE to fund the initiative and provide approximately 150 smartphones with voice and data plans for the patients, diabetes educators and other education personnel.  The diabetes educators will deliver DSMT to patients using a video application on the mobile devices.

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DSMT is a collaborative process through which people with or at risk for diabetes gain the knowledge and skills needed to modify behavior and successfully self-manage the disease and its related chronic conditions, according to HHS.  DSMT must be prescribed by a Medicare beneficiary’s healthcare provider in order to be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.

HHS officials said the initiative is intended to measure the effectiveness of evidence-based DSMT interventions delivered to participants by diabetes educators using mobile health (mHealth) programming.

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and racial and ethnic minorities continue to have higher rates of diabetes after adjusting for population age differences, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The Office of Minority Health is excited to collaborate on a consumer-focused health information technology (IT) initiative that will have the opportunity to significantly improve access to education on diabetes, which is such a critical health issue for minority communities,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Garth N. Graham, MD. “We applaud both the AADE and AT&T for their support and vision, and hope this work will stimulate more efforts to extend the use of health IT into underserved minority communities.”

The AADE is in negotiations with the Dallas-based Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute, an accredited DSMT program and an affiliate of Baylor Health Care System and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, to recruit participants for the study. Once complete, the AADE will also evaluate the project, with support from the Office of Minority Health.   

[See also: Diabetic patients report better care with use of Web-based PHRs.]