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Can Telehealth Improve Your Diabetes Management?

This technology provides flexibility for you and your healthcare providers and may lead to better management of your diabetes.

Overview

If you have diabetes, you are likely familiar with the need for frequent check-ups with your doctor. Needing to attend regular medical appointments can become a burden on your daily life due to scheduling conflicts, taking time off of work, and arranging transportation. If you live in a rural area, a visit with your doctor can become an all-day affair requiring multiple hours of driving. These situations can lead to frustration, missed appointments, and less effective diabetes management.

Thanks to advances in technology, you may have the option to attend virtual meetings with your healthcare providers through telehealth appointments. This technology provides flexibility for you and your healthcare providers and may lead to better management of your diabetes.


What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is any type of healthcare service delivered virtually rather than in-person. Telehealth appointments typically involve you and your healthcare provider meeting over a secure video or audio call on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Telehealth can also include remote patient monitoring that sends data directly to your doctor, email or text communication with healthcare providers, or online patient education materials.

Telehealth is a relatively new technology, but the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the healthcare community and its patients to adjust quickly to virtual medical care. Because of the quick work of the individuals in charge of developing and initiating telehealth technology, providers could address the health needs of millions of Americans, even during the height of the pandemic.

Although patients can continue receiving healthcare virtually, lawmakers and insurance companies are still developing reimbursement policies to ensure that providers deliver safe and effective care.


The Benefits of Telehealth

Telehealth is an excellent example of how advances in technology can increase access to healthcare. By incorporating virtual appointments into your regular healthcare routine, you can experience the many benefits of telehealth:

  • Meet with your doctor without having to leave your home or office. This is especially beneficial if you live far away from your doctor’s office, cannot arrange transportation, or have difficulty getting time off from work.
  • Speak with a specialist who isn’t local.
  • Have regular communication with your doctor.
  • More support for managing your diabetes.


Telehealth Can Compliment Your In-Person Appointments

If you have never used telehealth, you are familiar with communicating with your doctor strictly during in-office appointments. During these meetings, you talk with your doctor about your symptoms or health concerns, and your doctor orders any necessary tests at that time. Often, you have to make another appointment, return for these tests, and then meet with your doctor again to review the results.


Virtual discussions about your health concerns allow your doctor to anticipate which assessments and tests to perform before you arrive for your in-person appointment. While in the office, the healthcare team can focus on your specific needs and accomplish any tests that cannot be addressed online, such as physical assessments, blood work, and x-rays. Having a plan before you arrive saves time, makes your visit more efficient, and may reduce the frequency in which you have to return to your doctor’s office.


Preparing for your Telehealth Appointment

If you are used to seeing your doctor in person or struggle with technology, you may be hesitant to use telehealth services. In order to maximize your success with virtual healthcare, let’s review the best ways to prepare for your appointment.

  1. Write down important information: Taking notes before, during, and after your appointment will help ensure you have addressed all of your concerns and that you don’t miss important information from your doctor.
  • Have a list of your current medications, including doses and how frequently you take them.
  • Write down any questions or concerns you would like to address during your meeting.
  • If your doctor requested an updated weight, temperature, heart rate, or blood pressure, have that information available.
  • Keep a pen and paper nearby to take notes during your visit.
  1. Check your e-mail: Your doctor’s office likely sent you an e-mail with important information regarding your appointment as well as log-on instructions for the video service. Follow these instructions and call the office if you have trouble logging on; they will help you with troubleshooting.
  2. Prepare your camera: Give yourself plenty of time to get your computer and surroundings ready for your appointment.
  • Find a quiet place with plenty of light. You want your doctor to see and hear you clearly to get the most out of your appointment.
  • Close any unnecessary windows or applications on your phone or computer. These can slow your internet connection and cause your call to disconnect.
  1. Focus on your appointment: Treat your virtual appointments like in-person appointments. Eliminate any distractions that could interfere with the meeting, such as driving, TV, phone calls, or eating.



Sources

Health and Human Services. Preparing for a virtual visit. Updated 2 July 2021.

MedlinePlus. Telehealth. Updated 10 August 2021.

Garajawala & Pelkowski. Telehealth Benefits and Barriers. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. Published February 2021



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