Over the past year, we’ve seen telehealth break into a variety of specialties that used to rely heavily on in-person care. Diabetes care has been identified as an ideal candidate for incorporating telehealth care, for a variety of reasons. First, it relies heavily on self-management practices and the use of home medical devices to generate and capture data; telehealth technology can support these practices by connecting at-home data from the patient to the provider through virtual methods. Additionally, diabetes patients tend to have better outcomes with more frequent communication with their providers; telehealth allows increased contact with flexibility and convenience.
Once providers choose to make the jump to leverage a telehealth plan for diabetes patients, it's important to create a thorough plan of action for both provider and patient on how virtual services will be used. Here, we’ve compiled the steps and best practices for creating diabetes telehealth programs for your patients.
Healthie’s Telehealth & EHR platform was created with nutrition professionals in mind. Click here to learn how you can try it out for $0 with our free starter plan.
Benefits of Using a Telehealth Plan When Monitoring Diabetes
✓ Increased Patient Adherence
Using diabetes telehealth programs has played a role in increasing patient adherence to care plans. Telehealth services support diabetes self-management; patients can conveniently track and monitor their blood glucose levels, check medication doses and schedules, and communicate easily with their healthcare providers using a mobile health app. With accessible healthcare tools that support healthy behaviors, patients are more likely to adhere to their diabetes management regimen. This increased patient adherence has also led to improved health outcomes in diabetes patients. Multiple studies have demonstrated how incorporating a telehealth plan for diabetes care resulted in lowered HbA1c levels and better glycemic control, especially in older diabetes patients. Not only can patients develop independence through the use of a telehealth plan for diabetes, but they can reach their health goals even quicker and easier.
✓ Improved Communication
The more frequently a patient can check-in with their provider, the more likely they are to achieve positive health outcomes. Every chance a provider is able to engage with diabetes patients is another chance to build the relationship. The more interactions take place, the more time providers have to learn about your patient and their goals for working together. Incorporating telehealth tools for diabetes into the care plan increases the opportunity for patient-provider interactions. Whether it be through commenting on food journals, sharing metrics, sending chat messages, or joining telehealth appointments, communication is convenient and flexible for both patient and provider when using a telehealth plan for diabetes. Healthie’s platform includes all of this and more!
✓ Reduce Barriers to Care
Many diabetes patients in need of consistent care from their provider team may live in rural areas or not have access to the transportation needed for seeing their team face-to-face. However, diabetes care is dependent on frequent check-ins and constant monitoring. Unfortunately, trying to keep up with in-person appointments can be time consuming and put a strain on patients. Incorporating diabetes telehealth appointments and virtual tools into their action plan is becoming an increasingly popular strategy for reaching rural or otherwise homebound clients. A telehealth plan for diabetes patients gives them the option to complete a quick check-in from the comfort of their own home, using any technological device they have available. The stress of transportation, exposure to disease, time constraints, etc. is removed from the patient’s mind, and they can truly spend the diabetes telehealth appointment focused on working with their provider.
Creating a Telehealth Plan for Diabetes Patients
1. Choose the right telehealth tool
Before developing a telehealth care plan, be sure to think about the technology you will use to work with diabetes patients virtually. Nowadays, telehealth expands far beyond just video appointments; mobile health apps have a host of patient engagement features that can play a key role in plan adherence and improving health outcomes. The right tool will not only allow you to work with patients virtually, but also create chart notes, share documents, and complete other back-office workflows. Important features for a diabetes telehealth programinclude:
- HIPAA-compliant video-conferencing
- Food journaling and/or nutrient tracking
- Customizable metrics tracking
- HIPAA-compliant messaging
- Ability to share documents and resources
- Electronic Health Record
Especially when working with diabetes patients, logging key metrics, like blood sugar, as well as food journaling/nutrient tracking are critical self-management practices to add to your care plan. Your diabetes telehealth tool should work for you, making it easier for you to implement your virtual patient plans without missing a beat during the care process.
Once you’ve made a selection, include resources on the new technology you will be using to communicate with your patients. Ensuring your patients feel comfortable with telehealth for diabetes care will ensure they continue to make appointments with you, which will help build a strong provider-patient relationship as well as lead them towards achieving their wellness goals.
2. Set expectations for working together through telehealth
For many diabetes patients, adding telehealth technology to their regimen will be a drastic change from the care they are used to receiving. It’s important to set expectations for what working together virtually will look like. Patient outcomes will only increase with a regimen that outlines how patients will leverage telehealth tools to communicate with you. For example, you can review how often patients are expected to log metrics, upload food journals, and send chat messages to check-in. It’s likely you already have certain expectations that were put in place for in-person treatment; now, you can adjust these for telehealth care. Interactions may be more frequent; you might add 15-minute telehealth check-ins twice a week and require daily blood sugar logs, rather than biweekly appointments and a weekly email update with relevant metrics.
3. Set clear wellness goals aligned with your telehealth plan
Beyond making some steps towards change, health goals are achieved when patients can make consistent habit-forming changes. Making a collaborative effort towards goal setting shows your patients that you care about their progress and future success. Goal setting has been shown to be effective in helping adults achieve changes in their dietary or physical activity behaviors. Additionally, goal setting interventions that included support from a provider were much more effective than those in which patients set goals and worked on them individually.
Having the ability to monitor these goals through telehealth tools has proven to be instrumental in sustainable patient progress.
4. Create add-on diabetes telehealth programs for additional support
An additional advantage of leveraging a telehealth plan for diabetes is that you can create automated programs to improve self-management skills. Documents such as meal plans, videos, recipes, exercise regimens, or educational resources can be combined into a variety of modules that patients can complete on their own time, that drive goals and expectations already put into place with your action plan. Online programs can be a great option for patients who are struggling with the transition to mainly virtual care, by giving them an additional layer of support in-between appointments.
These diabetes telehealth programs help elevate the care you provide to patients, by expanding interventions beyond the care plan. Extra documents, such as recipe ideas, give patients concrete examples of how to incorporate recommendations into their daily lives. They are an additional form of support for patients, as they can act as a jumping-off point for introducing new habits into their routine. Healthie offers a cloud-based EHR and telehealth platform that is quick to implement while supporting compliance with HIPAA regulations–while being customizable to meet your business needs.
Healthie for Diabetes Telehealth Programs
Healthie’s telehealth and patient engagement platform has all of the key features that allow diabetes providers to support their patients through virtual care. Additionally, with EHR and back-office integrations, providers can manage their back-office tasks just as seamlessly through the platform.
- HIPAA-Compliant Telehealth: Fully integrated with HIPAA-compliant Zoom, Healthie providers telehealth capabilities for individual and group video sessions, and webinars. No need to create a Zoom account or enable an integration, simply log into your Healthie Provider account.
- Secure Chat: Healthie’s secure chat feature allows organization members to connect with each other for internal communication. Providers are also able to connect directly with clients to discuss care, appointments, and more.
- Patient Engagement Suite: Clients can log food and metrics, view and share documents, and chat with you within your secure, coordinated portal.
- EHR: Save time charting by using forms that are customized for your profession, business, and patient needs.
- Programs: Launch courses from your all-in-one portal that keeps clients on track and engaged.
Healthie has already helped diabetes providers achieve massive success when implementing telehealth tools with patients. Read our case study featuring Diabetes Care Partners here, and learn how DCP leveraged Healthie to scale their business to serve over 20,000 diabetes patients.
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