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Potential Benefits of Digital Tools in Diabetes Management


Elizabeth Holt, MD, FACE and Eden Miller, DO, comment on saving time for the provider and giving patients ownership of their data as benefits of using digital BGM apps in the management of diabetes.

Elizabeth Holt, MD, FACE: As a health care provider, what are the potential benefits to you from using these digital tools?

Eden Miller, DO: Compiling the data in meaningful ways. In our office, we try to have our team do different components. One thing we do is call the individual ahead of time. For instance, when I’m in clinic, I know that my medical assistants and front-office staff are going to reach out to our individuals who are doing diabetes-related technology. I don’t care if it’s as big as pumps and sensors or as low as connected meters, we’ll have those reports. Then when I have that patient in the office, I already have that workflow. I’m already there. I’m ready to go. I have those data. It’s a massive time-saver. A lot of times, when unknowing prescribers look at technology, they say they don’t have enough time to do it. I say, “You don’t have time not to do it.” One thing we need to do is acquire the data in a meaningful way that also improves our time management. We don’t have any more time to do it, but we still have to manage that disease.

The other thing that technology does is it allows the patient to engage in their disease is ownership of the data. They own them, but it’s manageable. Then they transfer them to me. There’s a little engagement that you need to have when you have diabetes. These Bluetooth connected meters are not just for the prescriber. They’re also an opportunity for the patient to be engaged and then hand off the data to me in a seamless manner. It really speeds things up.

When we look at diabetes-related technology, we have a spectrum. We have those who are so integrated in tech that even the delivery of their insulin and their monitoring of their blood glucose is through a sensor. We have different variations of that. We also have that opportunity for an individual who might be just self-monitoring blood glucose to have the ability to engage in technology through these Bluetooth-connected meters. That allows them to be a part of that technological experience and still do exactly what they typically do: self-monitoring blood glucose. That platform allows them to have their care in that technology space. They benefit from it, and I benefit from it.

Elizabeth Holt, MD, FACE: Dr Miller, is the hassle of learning and using digital technology even worth it for the primary health care provider? Especially those in busy practices.

Eden Miller, DO: Part of the issue is that we don’t even have time to breathe, let alone have lunch. I get that. One recommendation that I have is a phrase my mother said to me when I was younger: a job begun is half done. We need to start that conversation. Familiarize yourself. Think, “I have patients on these OneTouch meters anyway, so why couldn’t I suggest connecting to the application?” That’s the first step. It might not feel like you have to get the whole thing done, but that consideration—the fact that you’re learning about this technology—is the start of that journey.

The next step is to carve out a time where you say you’re purposeful and say I’m going to take this lunch period to figure out how to do it. Do those steps. If you try to do it piecemeal, somebody will come in saying, “I’m on this meter.” You say “There’s an app,” but you’re already pressed for time. You’ve got to be purposeful about it. That consideration and that first step is the majority of the work. Once you put a little work into it, you’re home free because the device continues to monitor itself. It’s working in the background. It’s going to be 1 of those things for which I should get on board and not be left behind. Do you remember when we went to cell phones? I still remember the cord on the telephone. You couldn’t go too far from the wall. We do change and morph—it’s about keeping up and not being left behind. I assure you that the very small time investment is worth it in the returns. Being purposeful about making that investment—to get it up and running, to create that workflow in your clinic—is going to be worth it.

Transcript edited for clarity

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