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Use of telemedicine to improve glycemic management in a skilled nursing facility: a pilot study.

Telemed J E Health. 2013 Aug;19(8):643-5. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2012.0274. Dy P, Morin PC, Weinstock RS. SUNY Upstate Medical University , Syracuse, New York.

The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using telemedicine to improve glycemic control (reduce episodes of hypoglycemia and severe hyperglycemia) for residents with diabetes in a skilled nursing facility. This randomized pilot study enrolled residents with diabetes (n=23; mean age, 83 years; 91% insulin-treated) and compared usual care (control; n=11) with usual care plus weekly/biweekly teleconsultations with an endocrinologist (n=12) for up to 6 months. A nurse and dietitian from the skilled nursing facility were at all televisits. Residents who were able and willing attended the televisits. Family members were also invited and occasionally were present. The endocrinologist reviewed glucose levels from point-of-care glucose meter downloads, dietary intake, medications, and medical status and recommended changes in glycemic therapy as needed. Measurements included glucose levels from point-of-care glucose meter downloads, hemoglobin A1c (A1c) levels, and a nurse satisfaction survey. Results showed that 7 of 10 insulin-treated intervention subjects had basal doses reduced (18-69%) compared with 2 of 11 control subjects (reduced 10% and 25%, respectively). There was a decrease in percentage of intervention participants with episodes of hypoglycemia (<80&#8201;mg/dL) over the previous month from baseline (42%) to end of study (22%) versus a rise in the control group (from 36% to 45%) and less hyperglycemia (>400&#8201;mg/dL) (intervention, from 33% to 22%; control, from 22% to 55%). There were no end-of-study A1c values >8.0% in the intervention group versus 44% in controls. Nursing staff at the skilled nursing facility expressed high satisfaction. Results suggest that telemedicine diabetes consultations to skilled nursing facilities can improve glycemic management.

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