Patient-Focused Wireless Messages for Diabetes
Leu, Michael G.
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Diabetes is a serious medical condition, affecting about 16 million Americans, and accounting for one out of every seven dollars spent related to health care each year. It is imperative to find new and innovative ways to help patients acknowledge, then manage, this condition. Aggressive management of blood sugars reduces future diabetes-related complications, but this is difficult to achieve. Studies suggest that about 50% of patients with diabetes have poor glycemic control. Recent interventions mainly target health care providers, including provider-based reminders to support the care plan. These reminders are limited by triggering only at clinic visits. Processes that work best provide continuing and ongoing support to patients, but continual monitoring systems in use today are not truly interactive (e.g. devices that transmit vital signs/blood glucose levels). This paper describes a patient-centered, configurable messaging system and protocols for its use. This messaging system utilizes information from the electronic medical record to generate patient-specific messages concerning medications and laboratory results, and can send patient-specified messages as well. This technology allows patients to be surveyed on health issues, with their replies available for population analysis. These short conversations provide reinforcement of the patient-provider agreed care plan between office visits, and are collected and summarized for future office visits. The pilot phase of this project is completed, with initial patient feedback ascertained through interviews and through instruments created to evaluate patient attitudes towards their health care team, towards diabetes, and towards technology. Using the messaging system has proven to be helpful, even enjoyable, for some patients.