Diabetes is a complex group of diseases that require continuous attention. Some forms of diabetes are more common than others, such as prediabetes, which affects approximately 1 in 3 American adults and can often be managed to reduce the risk of disease progression. Diabetes can also occur as type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, each presenting their own unique health challenges, and required treatments.
When patients are diagnosed with diabetes, treatment and disease management must be started as soon as possible. When properly treated and managed early on, patients can significantly improve their long-term health outcomes and may even achieve glucose levels of individuals without diabetes, depending on the severity of their condition. Unfortunately for many however, the time between diagnosis and effective management can be lengthy. This can result from several factors, but most commonly occurs due to long wait times for getting in contact with a certified diabetes educator.
Overcoming Barriers to Timely Diabetes Management
Traditionally, when patients are diagnosed with diabetes, they will be prescribed a treatment and instructed on how to administer it by their primary healthcare provider. Once a patient has been sent home after diagnosis, they can wait several months to be connected with a certified diabetes educator (CDE). CDE’s are healthcare professionals who specialize in care and treatment for individuals living with diabetes. These professionals can help patients gain a better understanding of the steps they must take throughout their day to day lives to control their insulin levels and improve their long-term health outcomes.
While being connected with a CDE is highly beneficial for patients with diabetes, the time it takes for these patients to be assigned professionals can be lengthy, which can result in patients delaying proper management of their disease. One solution that has been shown to improve the transition period between diagnosis and management of diabetes for patients, is telehealth. When utilized in healthcare organizations that treat diabetes, these virtual solutions can help set patients on the right path to disease management while they wait to be connected with their CDE.
Here, we’ll cover the benefits that come with early treatment and management of diabetes through telehealth, and the risks associated with delayed treatment and management.
Benefits of Using Telehealth for Early Diabetes Treatment and Management
Early treatment and management of diabetes are essential for improving patients’ health and overall quality of life. Although healthcare providers do all that they can to ensure patients are set up for success with their disease management, factors out of their control can often impact a patient’s ability to properly manage their condition in a desired time-frame. With telehealth however, providers can overcome barriers to early disease management and deliver patients the required resources and assistance needed to successfully begin managing their illness.
To give an example of how telehealth can be used to improve this process, we’ll consider a patient who has just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Traditionally, shortly after diagnosis this patient would be informed that they will be contacted by a designated CDE who will provide educational resources and help guide them through disease management. During this time, a patient may be unsure of the steps they should be taking, and lifestyle changes they should be making to improve their health.
With telehealth however, providers can immediately supply their patients with a number of useful educational resources through the use of virtual care pathways specific to their condition. This allows patients to start making necessary adjustments in their life as soon as possible, and can help them gain a better understanding of their responsibilities as a patient prior to connecting with their designated CDE. Through these pathways, patients can also reach out to a partner through the platform should they have any questions or concerns about how they should be managing their condition.
Risks Associated With Delayed Diabetes Treatment and Management
If left unmanaged, diabetes symptoms can progress quickly and cause severe harm to patients. In the early stages of diabetes, it is especially important that the correct measures are taken to keep a patient’s condition under control as this period sets the foundation for the years to come. In fact, research shows that during the first year after diagnosis, patients can reduce the risk of developing complications such as kidney disease, eye disease, stroke, heart failure, and poor circulation with proper treatment and management. If left untreated or not properly managed in this time-frame, patients risk developing any number of these complications later on in life.
Given the health benefits of early disease management for diabetes, it is essential that patients have the opportunity to educate themselves on the measures they should be taking to control their illness. By utilizing telehealth solutions, such as Aetonix’s Diabetes Care Pathway, healthcare professionals can provide their patients with the tools and resources needed to be proactive with their diabetes management. This can be especially helpful for patients when there is a high demand for CDE’s and wait times can be several months.
Continuing To Improve Early Care For Patients With Diabetes Through Telehealth
As with any chronic health condition, effectively managing diabetes in the early stages can make a world of difference in patients overall health and well-being. While there are many useful programs and resources available for patients living with diabetes, such as assistance and guidance from certified diabetes educators, there is always room for improvements in the ways patients receive care in the early stages of their illness. By utilizing telehealth solutions that are dedicated to early management of diabetes, healthcare providers can continue to enhance the ways patients manage their conditions and reduce the risks of delayed care.