Benefits of Virtual Care for the Diabetic Population
June 26, 2018
Telemedicine is changing the way people take ownership of their health and the relationships they maintain with their healthcare provider. While social media use continues to rise, people are increasingly relying on the freedom and flexibility that electronic communication provides.
Research has proven a positive correlation between improved mental health and the success of diabetic treatments. Comorbidity between mental health and diabetes provides perspective into the healthcare strategies that are needed to increase access for diabetic patients that previously may have been considered “unreachable”.
Diabetic patients, especially those that require glycemic management, can often be affected by what is called ‘diabetic distress’, feeling overwhelmed, unsupported, unmotivated, or simply burned out. Diabetic distress can manifest in a number of ways: poor self-image, low motivation, low social interaction, depression, self-sabotage, etc. These manifestations of distress often lead to a decline in patients managing their physical care, exacerbating their diabetes.
Simply put, if a patient’s mental health is compromised, they are less likely to succeed in maintaining their physical health. The cycle is complicated and possibly detrimental. In response, research has gravitated toward treating the mental effects of diabetic patients and showing how treatment can be assisted by providing mental healthcare. One important aspect is that this care is conducted virtually and extends beyond common applications – dealing with the complexities of a chronic condition like diabetes.
Lack of resources, information, or time can make it difficult for diabetic patients to access care options. Virtual care stands apart as it gives the opportunity for a patient to receive the care quickly and easily. This provides a sense of familiarity and the ability to conduct glucose testing or biometric readings in a private, comfortable environment.
Most people would agree that it’s easier to have a conversation in their living room than at a doctor’s office. The flexibility that virtual care provides can serve as a tool to customize the patient’s treatment plan, leading to more impactful results in a shorter time table.
Virtual care can be used to empower diabetic patients to be more proactive with their health. Leveraging tools such as smartphones and laptops, accessing virtual care is easier than before, therefore bridging the access gap, making patients more in control. While patients with other acute ailments can make do with a strict treatment plan, as a complex chronic condition, diabetes requires an entirely different approach. In most case, it requires a permanent lifestyle change and a new approach to medical care. Increased access to medical professionals, diabetes education, and lifestyle resources encourage patients to take ownership of their care and eliminate the stigma or intimidation that can be associated with diabetes.
According to one study, virtual care increases a patient’s perception of autonomy support and self-competence. This concept of autonomy has a strong relationship with the aforementioned benefits. By opening up access to virtual care and encouraging patients that they have the power to take control of their illness, autonomy naturally follows. Offering up an array of options, it is the hope that patients will have more awareness of their condition, possible triggers, and the treatment options that work best for them. Consequently, patients gain more control over their lifestyle. Virtual care brings the providers, resources, and answers to their screens, leading to an increased understanding of how each patients’ diabetes manifests. If these changes yield a positive result, the patient will gain the satisfaction of owning the success. The medical provider’s role is crucial, and access to this provider is even more important. That way, the provider serves as an educator and partner in handling diabetes patients and through virtual care, it would allow this relationship to form and flourish to maximize the benefits for the patient.
To learn more about the impact that virtual care can have on diabetes care and management, download our white paper on Tele-Endocrinology and Modern Diabetes Care.
By: Sam Johnson, CEO for VisuWell – Nashville, TN.