Telehealth Found Equally Effective in Lowering Blood Sugar

by U.S. Medicine

August 5, 2016

DENVER—Endocrinology telehealth consultations improved short-term glycemic control as effectively as traditional face-to-face visits in a veteran population with diabetes, according to a new study.

The article published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology noted that rates of diabetes for veterans who receive healthcare through the VHA are higher than rates in the general population. Furthermore, according to study authors led by researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, many veterans live in rural locations, far from VAMCs, thereby limiting their ability to readily seek face-to-face endocrinology care for diabetes.1

The researchers suggested that telehealth (TH) technologies present an opportunity to improve access to specialty diabetes care for such patients. Evidence is lacking, however, regarding the ability of telehealth to improve glycemic control in comparison to traditional face-to-face consultations, they said.

To remedy that, they conducted a retrospective cohort study of all new endocrinology diabetes consultations at the Denver VAMC over a yearlong period.

Results indicate that, of the 189 patients included in the analysis, 85 patients received face-to-face (FTF) endocrinology consultation for diabetes, and 104 patients received TH consultation.

For the mostly male participants, average age of 62.8, HbA1c improved from 9.76% (9.40% to 10.11%) to 8.55% (8.20% to 8.91%) (P < .0001) for the TH group and from 9.56% (9.16% to 9.95%) to 8.62% (8.22% to 9.01%) (P < .0001) for the FTF group after one visit.

Although the change in HbA1c was not significantly different in the TH and FTF groups, TH visits were associated with a hypothetical savings in median distance traveled of 231.2 miles per trip, which study authors said equated to $94.79 saved per trip.

Endocrinology TH consultations improved short-term glycemic control as effectively as traditional FTF visits in a veteran population with diabetes,” the researchers concluded.

1 Liu W, Saxon DR, McNair B, Sanagorski R, Rasouli N. Endocrinology Telehealth Consultation Improved Glycemic Control Similar to Face-to-Face Visits in Veterans. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2016 May 10. pii: 1932296816648343. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27170633.

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