Virtual care might be the solution to control the growing diabetes epidemic

Spreading the word   

November is American Diabetes Month, a campaign launched by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to increase public awareness about the global diabetes epidemic. Today, diabetes affects more than 422 million people. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death by the year 2030. In the U.S alone, 30.3 million adults are living with diabetes. Approximately 84 million adults have prediabetes though 90% of them don’t know it.


The diabetes care team  

While diabetes is a common disease, each patient needs individualized care. Proper diabetes management requires a multidisciplinary team approach as collaborative efforts are key to successful outcomes. A complete care team includes:

  • Primary care provider – the first point of contact for testing, diagnosis, and regular check ups
  • Registered dietitian – to create an eating plan for maintaining low blood sugar levels and proper weight
  • Certified diabetes educator/registered nurse – to advise patients on lifestyle changes and how to cope with diabetes
  • Endocrinologist – to treat and manage any diabetic comorbidities
  • Ophthalmologist – to spot and treat any diabetic related eye diseases
  • Podiatrist – to assess corns and calluses that could result in diabetic foot ulcers
  • Pharmacist – to advise patients on potential side effects and interactions between blood sugar lowering and other medication
  • Dentist and Periodontist – to reduce oral bacterial count that raises the risk of periodontitis in diabetic patients


Telemedicine can help link all care team members for optimal care delivery  

The global annual cost of diabetes is $825 billion dollars. There is increasing evidence, especially in diabetes management, that telemedicine benefits healthcare providers and patients by enabling easy and quick access to multiple members of the care team. Prof. Ronald C. Merrell, director of the NASA Telemedicine program, suggested the following guidelines for successful virtual consulting:

  1. Accurate data collected in a digital format,
  2. Data incorporated into an electronic record that can be transmitted,
  3. Protocols for distant analysis, and
  4. Communication tools for effective dialogue among primary managers, patients, and specialists

By incorporating the above criteria into practice, telemedicine can provide a valuable experience for patients 

Routine care of chronic diseases, like many aspects of our lives, is becoming automated online. Patients make use of smartphone apps and devices at home to record indicators and transfer data to healthcare providers. Healthcare providers can assess a patient’s blood sugar levels, symptoms, diet, and medication adherence on a daily basis. This makes telemedicine a practical and cost effective option for diabetes management. By educating and interacting with patients regularly, telemedicine might even reduce diabetes related comorbidities.

You can help spread awareness and manage your patients’ chronic diseases using virtual care. To join the HealthTap Medical Experts network, click the button below

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Simitha Singh Rambiritch

Simitha Singh Rambiritch is a Dentist from South Africa with a Masters in Science in Oral Medicine and Periodontology from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She was a clinician in the South African public and private sector and an oral medicine and periodontology lecturer for dental and oral hygiene students at the Wits School of Oral Health Sciences for almost 8 years. She also authored several publications in the South African Dental Journal. Simitha was the 2013 recipient of the Margot Lachmann Fellowship, for excellence in cancer research, with a focus on early diagnostic biomarkers in premalignant and autoimmune conditions and their conversion rate to oral cancer. She was invited to present her findings at the 9th International Congress on Autoimmunity in Nice, France.

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