Top 10 Tips for Diabetes Telehealth Prophetic in Face of COVID-19

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MARCH 31, 2020 —  The era of diabetes telemedicine has arrived.

In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, clinicians of all specialties who were already incorporating telehealth visits into their practices are now ramping it up, while those who were not using the technologies before are now scrambling to put them in place.

free access article, “Top Ten Tips for Successfully Implementing a Diabetes Telehealth Program,” was published March 19 in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics by pediatric endocrinologist Stephanie Crossen, MD, of the University of California, Davis, and colleagues.

Written before the COVID-19 crisis hit, the article offers detailed practical advice in 10 key areas (for more details, see further down the article):

  • Hardware

  • Video software

  • Diabetes software

  • Scheduling telehealth visits

  • Standardizing telehealth visit processes

  • Reimbursement (for the US only)

  • Electronic health record (EHR) integration

  • Patient expectations

  • Patient-centered care

  • Culture change among providers and institutions

The document focuses primarily on implementing patient-to-clinic video encounters, although it also discusses asynchronous data review of patient-generated data and clinic-to-clinic video encounters.

In an interview, senior author Aaron B. Neinstein, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), told Medscape Medical News: “What people are realizing is that this is a lot easier and there are fewer barriers than they thought. I keep hearing this. It seems big and scary but once people start doing it they think it’s great and not that hard.”

“I hope these are pragmatic tips that help people get over the hump.”

Even under normal circumstances, routine diabetes care, whether in an endocrinology or primary care setting, is particularly well-suited to the use of telehealth: much of it involves electronic downloading of data from devices and speaking with patients about their own self-management.

Greg Dodell, MD, an endocrinologist with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City who moderates a Twitter chat about telemedicine for endocrinologists using the hashtag #endotwitter, spoke with Medscape Medical News.

“I think this is an excellent paper and really a ‘wow!’ It comprehensively covers the landscape of telehealth including the proper setup, reimbursement, scheduling, and most importantly, how it can potentially facilitate the clinical relationship by enhancing self-care and eliminating potential barriers to follow-up.”

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