According to the CDC, diabetes affects an estimated 11.3% of the total US population, or 37.3 million people, and is the seventh leading cause of death in the country. Furthermore, the 30-day readmission rate for diabetes is between 14.4% and 22.7%, which is higher than the rate of all hospitalized patients.
Given the prevalence of diabetes, healthcare providers must look for ways to help diabetes patients manage their disease, and one of the best ways to do so is by providing patients with comprehensive Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) services.
In this article, we will be exploring how telehealth and remote patient monitoring can help diabetes patients with DSMES, and how these services can be useful in reducing the readmission rates of diabetes patients.
Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a chronic condition in which the body does not produce enough or is unable to respond normally to insulin, resulting in abnormally high average blood sugar levels. Consistently high blood sugar levels can cause serious health issues such as heart attacks, strokes, vision loss, chronic kidney disease, and decreased sensation in the feet.
Among the symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Increased hunger
- Blurred vision
- Decreased exercise endurance
Educating Your Patients on Diabetes
Diabetes patient education is critical to ensuring that patients can better manage the daily challenges of their disease, improve their quality of life, reduce the likelihood of developing complications, and reduce the need for hospital readmissions or emergency room visits.
To begin, your healthcare facility must devise a plan to assist diabetes patients in learning about their disease, with the primary goal of helping patients with long-term diabetes self-management.
As a general guideline, your education plan should teach patients the following:
- Understanding their diabetes diagnosis and how it affects their daily lives
- Modifying eating habits to accommodate for diabetes
- Recognizing symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
- Managing medication and administrating insulin
- Demonstrating the benefits of physical activity and how they can incorporate it into their daily routine
- Developing strategies to aid in the achievement of psychological and physiological objectives.
We recommend you review the CDC's DSMES Toolkit to assist your healthcare facility in developing a comprehensive patient education plan. You should also take the time to conduct a patient needs assessment to tailor programs for each patient.
Planning Patient Discharge & Preventing Readmission
Before you discharge a diabetes patient under your healthcare facility's care, it's important to factor in the patient's knowledge, learning abilities, and educational needs to form a discharge plan that works for them.
You should also consider why the patient was admitted to the hospital. If you have a high number of readmissions due to insufficient patient diabetes education, such as a lack of understanding about the treatment or what patients perceive to be difficult-to-follow care instructions, it may be time to rethink your diabetes education strategy for current and future patients.
Proper care following the first few days after a patient's discharge can reduce the likelihood of readmission. Having the right remote patient monitoring tools can help healthcare providers manage their patients' symptoms and intervene if something goes wrong.
Regarding patient education, the telehealth and RPM platform can provide educational resources that they may refer to help them acclimate to their condition. With these resources, patients can learn to develop healthy habits and form lasting behavioral changes, which can help to improve a patient's long-term health and well-being.
Managing Diabetes ABCs With Telehealth & RPM
When it comes to diabetes self-management, a patient should primarily focus on three things:
- A1C: blood test showing your average blood sugar levels
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels: to prevent complications such as heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease
With appropriate remote patient monitoring peripherals, a diabetes patient can easily measure their diabetes ABCs and report back to their primary care providers. This not only updates providers on the status of their patient but also ensures that the patient is fully aware of their health status during these reports.
Medication is also important in helping patients manage their ABCs. Timely reminders from a telehealth and RPM platform can help patients adhere to their medication cycles and prevent future complications.
For patients managing their ABCs with lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet or additional physical activity, tracking their physical health journey can help to provide a sense of progress. This progress can also be shared with healthcare providers via a remote digital weight, allowing them to better understand a patient's health status and tailor treatment accordingly.
How HRS Can Help with Diabetes Patient Education
Telehealth and RPM are effective education delivery systems for diabetes patients. At HRS, we have the technology and experience to implement remote patient monitoring programs that meet your requirements.
We also have a selection of informative videos to help with patient diabetes education, with a virtual video library covering the following topics:
- How To Use Insulin
- Exercising Safety When You Have Gestational Diabetes
- How To Monitor Your Blood Glucose, Ketones, and Health
- Diabetes & Pregnancy
- Managing Hypoglycemia
- How To Check Blood Glucose
- Making Healthy Food Choices
- Diabetes Self-Care
- Diabetes In Children
- Managing Emotions & Depression Arising from Diabetes
- Taking Medication
- Lifestyle Changes and Stress Management
Get in touch with one of our digital health specialists for more information on our diabetes-related RPM services and educational videos!