People living with diabetes are working to overcome barriers every day. Short-term barriers such as monitoring blood glucose and longer term barriers such as diabetes related health complications. Often these concerns are at the forefront for healthcare providers. While these are important to a person living with diabetes as well, most are managing multiple barriers to when trying to achieve desired outcomes.
Financial concerns, education, insurance coverage, access to care, preventative services, motivation, self-care and time can all influence engagement in treatment and health outcomes. In the digital world, using technology to alleviate hurdles related to diabetes self-management may ultimately improve health and wellness. Here are some questions and answers to consider on behalf of integrating technology.
Q: What are the greatest barriers people with diabetes face?
A: When it comes to diabetes self-management, many aspects of caring for diabetes can be overwhelming. Questions come up at all hours of the day. Accessing health care providers outside of scheduled office visits is nearly impossible. Aside from an Emergency Room visit, often times people living with diabetes can feel at a loss when blood glucose levels spike, important questions come up or there are uncertainties as how to manage an impending illness or meal/activity pattern. Depending on the severity of the concern, open provider appointments can be few and far between.
Q: How do people living with diabetes use technology to obtain access to health care providers?
A: Technology is helping to close the gap in the health care industry. Digital Coaching programs provide patients access to Diabetes Educators, Nurses, Dietitians, Physicians and other health care providers which can be a turning point. A Coach is able to call to check-in or the patient may send a quick email/text to their Diabetes Educator to ask a question. Knowing that concerns and questions can be answered without the hassle of scheduling systems, taking off work or traveling while ill to see the health care provider, can be an enormous relief.
Q: What is another common hurdle for people living with diabetes?
A: Maintaining optimal blood glucose ranges are an everyday concern for people living with diabetes. This can be stressful and overwhelming when there are many factors that influence blood glucose levels each day. Knowledge is power and with treatments options continuously changing, it can become difficult to keep up with needs.
Q: Are there digital tools that can help alleviate this burden for people with diabetes?
A: Digital tools are an exciting piece of the diabetes word. Glucometers to measure blood glucose are become more advanced. Continuous glucose monitoring systems can be worn to determine blood glucose levels at any time of the day for real-time data that is crucial for managing treatment. Insulin pumps allow an easy way to manage and dose insulin. Additional tools such as devices that calculate insulin dose simultaneously with blood glucose levels, take the counting and guesswork out of determining an appropriate amount of insulin to take. Many of these tools are linked to smart phones, computer software and more. This allows the data to be shared easily with health care providers and track trends for managing treatment.
Q: Why are digital health tools recommended when it comes to managing diabetes?
A: Digital health tools can be invaluable to a person living with diabetes. Trying to manage diabetes while trying to manage the rest of “life” is not an easy feat. When technology can help us save time and alleviate stress while improving our health outcomes – it becomes a win-win.
Q: How do people living with diabetes get started with technology?
A: Start by asking. It never hurts to ask from recommendations from a health care provider, nurse-friend, neighbor with diabetes or the mom at school whose child has diabetes. Connection is important. Ask for referrals to resources, ask about new digital programs, ask about technology tools that could help improve care and management for diabetes. Next, start researching - use the digital world (aka the internet) to begin gathering more information. Once tools are found that might be a good fit, discuss them with a health care provider to create a plan that will work for best managing diabetes.