Telemedicine a Success with Diabetes Patients Who Live in Rural Locations

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One barrier to treatment for those who live in rural locations is the ability to regularly see a doctor or specialist. This is especially a concern for those with diabetes. Through 13 test sites, a study funded by the Kate B. The Reynolds Charitable Trust and the North Carolina Health Resources & Services Administration provided telemedicine services to diabetes patients in rural North Carolina from between 2013 and 2016. As expected, this test program resulted in improved health for those in the study. These adults all lived in traditionally underserved area and had uncontrolled or poorly controlled type 2 diabetes.

Each patient met with their healthcare team via teleconferencing several times, including meeting with doctors, pharmacists, and nutritionists. Some met with several of these professionals at a time. During the 30-month test period, 365 patients participated in over 1,200 video conferences. Information collected at the end of the study was then contrasted with information taken at the beginning. Overall, the figures showed improved A1c, low density lipoprotein count, and weight over the course of the first year. These results matched those from patients who regularly visited a physician’s office in person.

These findings were published in North Carolina Medical Journal on June 19, 2017.

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