Diabetes is a common and costly problem in the United States: one in ten Americans suffer from diabetes and estimated direct and indirect medical costs were around $237 billion and $90 in 2017, according to a 2018 study by the American Diabetes Association. Indirect costs of diabetes include missed work due to poor health, poor productivity while at work, or reduced workforce participation altogether, and these are a burden on the nation as well as the individual.
Diabetes Awareness Month this November is the perfect time to look at what services and technologies are offered and used to your organization. Many interventions likely take place in the hospital, as the use of a diabetes educator to teach patients about their condition and medications (see the HBI-created diabetes educator’s sample job description if you are curious about hiring this role). However, to meet patients where they are at, many facilities are introducing various technologies to help patients address barriers and keep them compliant to their care plan and care goals—all from the comfort of home and via their very own smartphones.
4 Common Barriers and Their Digital Solutions
Digital health tools can address many of the common challenges of diabetes. They provide features such as personalization, a log of glucose levels and other important metrics, habit tracker, and even socialization, all which increases individual engagement in their care. Highlighted below are some key digital solutions that you may want to consider for your practice:
- Covering costs like medications and other supplies is a common barrier among the diabetes patient population. More healthcare organizations and other companies are working to give patients more pricing information and treatment options. For example, the Cost Estimator app by Priority Health provides its members with instant access to their costs on more than 300 healthcare procedures.
- Behavior changes are often a must among individuals with diabetes, but even those determined to live a healthier lifestyle often need some encouragement and guidance. The Diabetes Prevention Program by Omada Health is a digital behavior change program. It is covered under Medicare and has been shown to help patients successfully lose weight and adopt healthy habits.
- Some patients may not know they are on their way to becoming diabetic and would benefit from proactive communication from their healthcare provider. CipherHealth’s automated outreach solution focuses on engaging pre-diabetic and diabetic patients. Using the technology, healthcare systems can use multiple modalities to assess the patient’s self-management, automatically alert appropriate teams to resolve any issue and provide individualized care instructions or diabetes education to patients who need another layer of support.
- BlueStar, an award-winning digital health solution, has several features that make it helpful to patients. The software is meant to keep patients on track for their care goals in-between visits with their doctor by tracking patients’ readings and facilitating conversations between coaches and patients for tailored guidance.
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