Manage diabetes with remote patient monitoring

Recent publications have reported the extent of the diabetes epidemic in Britain, with research from Diabetes UK pointing out that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has doubled in the past 15 years.

While statistics are concerning and the number of people with diabetes is clearly on the rise, the growing body of evidence that in some cases diabetes can be brought into remission through lifestyle changes and close monitoring is encouraging.

Identifying the people most likely to be affected, educating all impacted people about possible complications and risk factors, and deploying the necessary resources to help prevent and manage diabetes will be paramount for the healthcare sector. There is concern that an additional 13.6 million people in the UK are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the not-so-distant future.

The adoption of new digital health technologies could be a factor in reducing this number by closing the gap to well-being, empowering patients to take more responsibility for their own health and improving their quality of care. life, while helping clinicians provide better care.

Who in society is most affected by diabetes?

Evidence shows that diabetes is becoming a widespread problem in many communities in the UK, but understanding which people and communities are most at risk is key to developing strategies to improve health.

Research has shown that individuals within certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and earlier in their lives, which puts them at greater risk of long-term effects from diabetes. The risk for these groups is significant, people of African, African, Caribbean and South Asian origin being at risk of developing diabetes from the age of 25, compared to the white population where the risk increases from the age of 40. .

Currently, the reasons for this increased risk for people of certain ethnicities are unclear, often due to the lack of comparative data, and medical research is ongoing to determine the possible triggers that cause the disease to appear early. in all ethnicities.

At the start of the UK government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, pregnant women were highlighted as a particularly vulnerable group and encouraged to practice strict social distancing measures. This has had a profound effect on the delivery of antenatal care with modified care pathways being developed to limit face-to-face appointments in hospitals and general practitioner offices.

Having fewer face-to-face consultations has particularly affected women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), a disease that affects 16 in 100 pregnancies in the UK each year.
Gestational diabetes mellitus is a disease that develops during pregnancy.

Together with pre-existing type 1 and type 2 diabetes, these conditions are characterized by high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and, if not managed effectively, can lead to serious maternal and newborn complications during pregnancy and after birth. These can include premature birth, birth trauma and increased risk of stillbirth; as well as pre-eclampsia and an increased likelihood of induced labor or cesarean section.

Due to the need to closely monitor blood sugar levels during pregnancy complicated by diabetes, it is recommended that women with diabetes have contact with their healthcare professional every 1 to 2 weeks during pregnancy. However, during the pandemic, an augmented care pathway incorporating technology was favored by clinicians to safely limit face-to-face contact.

This has now set the stage for wider acceptance and adoption of remote patient monitoring as a way to help monitor and manage women with diabetes during pregnancy, using mobile apps to measure and record patients. blood sugar levels and provide appropriate care.

In addition to the pandemic affecting the management of diabetes in pregnant women, diabetes has also been listed as one of the conditions that has been linked to poorer outcomes for people with SARS-VOC infection. 2. A study of 61 million UK patient records identified that 30% of COVID-19-related deaths have occurred in people already diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In addition, new diabetes diagnoses have emerged. been linked to SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Not only is there evidence to suggest that people diagnosed with diabetes are one of the groups hardest hit by the pandemic, but those who have not yet been diagnosed with the disease are also feeling the effects of the pressure. on health services during the pandemic with a 49% reduction in type 2 diabetes diagnosis in 2020 – likely due to underdiagnosis due to reduced screening during the pandemic rather than a true drop in prevalence.

How can remote patient monitoring help?

The use of digital technologies to enable safe and effective remote care for pregnant women with or at risk for diabetes during the pandemic has been mandated by national bodies. In fact, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that all women with diabetes during pregnancy benefit from remote management of their diabetes, where appropriate, with Sensyne Health’s GDm-Health solution listed as the one of the digital applications capable of facilitating this.

Recognizing that there are other groups of diabetic patients who also require careful monitoring (e.g. patients transitioning to insulin therapy or cancer patients with steroid-induced diabetes), Sensyne also offers DBm-Health, specifically for diabetic patients who need additional support to maintain safe blood sugar levels. levels.

While digital technologies do not replace standard care, they can improve existing care pathways by allowing certain appointments to be virtual or by providing near real-time monitoring of a patient’s condition. Remote monitoring of patients has played a crucial role in providing care during COVID-19, but its use does not start and end with the pandemic. It has the potential to improve or radically change existing healthcare pathways, improve operational efficiency, and help achieve better patient outcomes.

It is important not only to continue to raise awareness about the disease, its prevention and treatments, but also to examine how we can fight and curb the numbers. With the pandemic causing a significant delay in appointments and the number of people at risk of developing diabetes growing, it is important that the sector can develop new diagnostic, monitoring and treatment processes that provide more effective care. but equal.

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