According to CDC reports, eight out of 10 deaths are caused as a result of chronic diseases, with diabetes being one of them.
Diabetes, as we all know, is a complex disease involving fluctuating blood glucose levels and it can prove to be fatal if not handled carefully. Since the fluctuation of the glucose level is unpredictable, timely management is imperative to prevent the serious consequences of mortality.
Telehealth solutions show promising results in case of diabetes management. To begin with, telehealth caters to the medical needs of the patients as well as educates them on remote basis; working as a catalyst for diagnosis, consultation, and self-management. This is carried out via electronic means and telecommunication technologies.
It is not surprising that telehealth has transformed the medical industry, metamorphosing it close to a tech-giant, making both the professional’s and patient’s life more comfortable by promoting long-distance health care system. It has managed to significantly improve the management of diabetes and other chronic health conditions. And such a system is now deemed as quite feasible. In fact, it is readily accepted unlike the traditional healthcare system by the masses.
The Health Resources and Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and advanced communications (technologies) to provide medical care and healthcare related education.
So how does Telemedicine work?
Running a successful telehealth system requires a powerful broadband connection. The better the bandwidth quality, the more date could be processed. The patient is to have an electronic tabletop device in their homes so that effective communication with the medical expert can take place. It functions on pre-set parameters established by the patient’s clinician, whereby tracking or monitoring blood sugar levels and as to how the patient feels at the moment. The data is then transmitted through a telephone line or broadband to a server at the health care monitoring center. The individual’s recorded data is then analyzed against the pre-stored data by the clinician, following which a diagnosis and prescription are issued.
Patients’ blood glucose level, diet, smoking or drinking habits, and other vital data such as physical activity as in exercise patterns, need to be provided once every two weeks for successful evaluation and management. The stored medical and personal information are then transmitted, stored, monitored and thoroughly analyzed. The patient is then accordingly recommended changes in the diet (if required) to control the fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
How has Telehealth facilitated patient’s diabetic management and care?
Firstly, it has been a massive convenience since it has smoothened up the process of consultation and treatment – you no longer need to meet your GP physically or visit the nearest healthcare facility. Earlier, patients would lose what little level of health there is due to long commutes to the hospital. Natural calamities like heavy rain or snow might also end up making the situation worse. Such an intervention has gradually been synonymous to “blessing in disguise” as no matter how much a patient is vulnerable or weather conditions are dangerous, they are no more a hindrance in the treatment of the patient.
In addition to this, rural areas or areas with mobility issues where medical assistance is a matter of grave concern; telehealth has indeed been a positive change and made a massive contribution on humanitarian grounds.
Secondly, diabetes is a chronic disease which requires a constant check. As mentioned earlier, the condition is prone to fluctuations; medical help could be needed anytime and anywhere. This makes telehealth and virtual healthcare systems an absolute necessity in addition to convenience. Not to forget, they are incredibly time-saving as well. Should there be any problem, a change in treatment can be done after consultation with the healthcare provider (through the telehealth system). Moreover, there is no wastage of time as traveling isn’t involved.
Thirdly, telemedicine solutions save a significant amount of money for both the patient and practitioner. There are always traveling costs involved when paying traditional visits to a clinic which gets outright reduced. On the other hand, the medical experts do not have to undergo a monetary loss in cases of cancellations or absence of the patient which is a common sight in cases of appointments.
Speaking of this, virtual health consultations are indeed a blessing for the people living in rural areas. Similarly, they do not have to deal with heavy fares in addition to other added expenses of visiting distant professionals, which they otherwise would have to pay for the treatment.
Fourthly, the glucose levels can be checked and monitored at home using at-home blood glucose meters, but the problem arises when it comes to the medication. A constant check on the intake of medicine is as important as monitoring of the glucose levels. And this is where the telehealthcare system plays its role.
It reduces the risks significantly and prevents complications, by being able to guide the patients well regarding the medicinal intake and correct injection of insult. A GP can carefully assess and monitor in what amounts the individual is injecting the insulin.
Also, there is no need to request for half-days from work or take time off. The telehealth system is advantageous in a sense that one can even schedule the appointment during recess. Health and wealth both are secure, thanks to this facility.
Lastly and most importantly, the prospect of being treated from the comfort of one’s home with loved ones by the side is another plus point. Studies have shown that a patient recovers way quicker and are more likely to respond positively when surrounded by near and dear ones than at a hospital.
As for the practitioners, they can cater to a wider number of patients by incorporating a system like telemedicine into their existing practice.
Telehealth is a budding industry, which is expected to soar if the reimbursement improves and resources are allocated efficiently. Not only this, with a little awareness amongst the population regarding this system and the advantages it has to offer, it can be an ultimate contribution to a healthier society.