Telephone-based remote care improves blood glucose control among Type 2 diabetes patients, study finds

Patients with Type 2 diabetes who participated in a telephone-based remote care program had comparable improvements in blood glucose control to those who received traditional in-person care, according to a study presented March 17 at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in Chicago.

For the study, the researchers compared blood glucose control among 442 patients with Type 2 diabetes who received care through an e-consult program, and another 307 patients who received treatment through traditional face-to-face care. The study took place at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

The e-consult intervention involved an endocrinologist specializing in diabetes reviewing a patient's medical record and conducting a 20- to 30-minute phone interview before electronically delivering the referring physician recommendations on blood glucose control. For three to six months following the e-consultation, a nurse monitors the patient's progress through phone calls.

The care team might also refer a patient to local ancillary services, such as nutrition counseling or diabetes education services.

Patients in both the e-consult group and the traditional care group significantly improved their hemoglobin A1c, a measure of average blood glucose level during the past few months, after three to six months. The e-consult program proved more convenient than in-person care, with the average time to obtain a consultation 10 days, compared to 37 days for a face-to-face visit.

"Without incurring any travel, our electronic consultation program provides equally efficacious diabetes care with significantly expedited access," Archana Bandi, MD, the study's senior investigator and the clinical director of telehealth services at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, said in a March 17 statement released by the Endocrine Society.

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