Online diabetes management may result in better care, study concludes

By Bernie Monegain
10:01 AM

Online diabetes management programs may lead to improved patient knowledge, engagement and accountability, as well as better communication between patient and doctor, according to a new study by the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners HealthCare.

The study is published in the March issue of the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology.

About 23.6 million children and adults in the United States, or 7.8 percent of the population, have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Based on the results of the pilot study, which examined a program called Diabetes Connected Health, the Center for Connected Health has initiated a randomized clinical trial involving 200 patients from six primary care practices affiliated with either Massachusetts General Hospital or Brigham and Women's Hospital.
"This study provided valuable feedback from diabetes patients and providers on the utility, benefits and limitations of a Web-based diabetes management program," said Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, director of the Center for Connected Health. "Although the mean number of readings sent per month decreased over time, the number of comments posted per month increased, indicating ongoing engagement."
The pilot study included seven patients with type 2 diabetes at Massachusetts General Hospital. Study participants received access to a secure Web site that stored and graphed glucose readings uploaded remotely by the patients using a standard glucometer. Both patients and providers had access to the Web site, where the data could be viewed, analyzed and discussed.
Mean glucose levels declined over the three-month pilot period, as did self-reported HbA1c levels, which indicate the level of blood glucose over time.

Providers participating in the study reported that the Diabetes Connected Health program increased their confidence in adjusting medication based on remote glucose readings submitted by their patients. Patients also rated the Web site and provided feedback on the program, which will be used to enhance the platform.
"Diabetes Connected Health has the potential to truly impact the way diabetes care is delivered and to improve both clinical and economic outcomes," said Alice Watson, MD, corporate manager of the Center for Connected Health and a co-author of the paper.  "Self-monitoring of blood glucose may have a greater impact when patient data can be shared with a provider in a timely manner, leading to treatment changes and enhanced patient education and motivation."

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