We often hear mHealth described as a nascent space–one where there is still a substantial gap between the potential of tomorrow and the reality of today. With any transformation, there is a cycle: first, you have a brilliant concept; then, you have the process of making that concept a reality; you have to prove out the value and enhance it through various trials and lessons learned; finally, there is widespread adoption.
When I think about the future of healthcare, I picture a world where the adoption of Health IT is widespread. With the proliferation of smartphones and mobile apps, it’s easy to see that mHealth solutions will play an increasingly important role in potentially improving patient care–especially for patients with chronic diseases like diabetes.
Where we’re coming from
Think about it… If a person with diabetes goes out to eat for dinner and is unsure what choice he should make from the menu that will best impact his glucose levels for the day, he isn’t going to call me to ask that question. He may be able to download an app to help him make the smart choice—but with the majority of healthcare apps, as his doc, I wouldn’t be privy to that information. And that’s the information I need. I want to know how he is trending.
That’s why the results we are seeing from the recent DiabetesManager pilots are so important…and so exciting. We are able to learn from the findings and use them as a springboard for future mHealth solutions.
Where we are
I recently posted findings from Health Care Service Corporation’s DiabetesManager pilot, focusing on the nurse case manager perspective. Now, I’d like to share some highlights from the AT&T employee pilot. (Read the IDC white paper)
Drum roll please… End-user feedback from an online survey of DiabetesManager employee pilot participants indicate:
- 72 percent rated DiabetesManager as a “highly useful” as a tool to help them manage their diabetes [Rated 4-5 on a five point scale].
- 81 percent would continue to use the solution after the initial pilot period.
- 91 percent would recommend the solution to someone else.
- There were 181 participants (employees, retirees and dependents) with type 2 diabetes that were high-acuity that registered to use DiabetesManager
- Participants made tens of thousands of blood glucose, medication, and carbohydrate entries during a six-month period.
- Initial review of the data finds high adoption and engagement of the solution, with 81 percent of the program participants showing consistent use of the system by making data entries in at least 1 of every 4 weeks they were in the program.
Where we’re going
The beauty of mHealth technologies, like DiabetesManager, is that they really have benefits to all involved: providers, employers, doctors and patients. So I am now actually able to say, “Hey, your finger sticks aren’t where they should be. I need you to come back in two weeks. I was wrong. Two months is too late.” Or, “Mr. Smith, you’re doing so well! Why don’t you come back and see me in six months.”
And then you have the benefit of really educating the patient. It’s about being able to help them better self-manage and understand their diabetes. They need to understand what a carbohydrate or a protein is… and most importantly, they need to really get what it means to their finger sticks for that day or for that week. What was clear in the pilot findings is that change in behaviors can take place no matter how long someone has had diabetes.
Take a look at a “Day in the Life” of Anne McQuade, a patient with diabetes who participated in the AT&T DiabetesManager employee pilot.
This is a big step towards broad-based adoption. I’m looking forward to a future where it’s standard for people to utilize mHealth solutions like DiabetesManager, to take control of their health and wellness…managing their disease and providing actionable information that the patient can use and the case manager or caregiver can act upon when necessary.
As a provider, or as a patient, have you used mHealth solutions to better manage diseases or conditions? What benefits have you realized? What can you envision for these services in the future?
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