Digital Applications to Assist Young People with Type 1 Diabetes Shows Promise

The results of a recent study, Intensive remote monitoring vs. conventional care in type 1 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial,” published in the February 21, 2018, issue of Pediatric Diabetes reveals positive results for children and teens with type 1 diabetes. The six-month study by Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and UnitedHealth Group showed children and teens enrolled in the remote therapy monitoring pilot program showed signs of better blood glucose control and an improved quality of life.

The teens between the ages of 13 to 17 while enrolled in intensive remote therapy program (IRT) had a lower mean hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) level than a comparable group of children enrolled in the program. The benefits of lower HbA1c levels for people with diabetes is reduced risk of health complications including nerve or eye damage, or kidney disease. The remote glucose monitoring devices allowed participants to store their test results, and share this data with their health care clinicians. The study found a correlation between the routine adherence to this process and better A1c outcomes.

“Managing Type 1 diabetes is a full-time job. It requires constant monitoring that can be disruptive to patients’ lives and be very challenging, particularly for children and teenagers,” said Dr. Laura Gandrud, a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota McNeely Pediatric Diabetes Center who was involved in the study. “We are optimistic about the potential for IRT therapies to help patients take better control of their diabetes and their overall health. Even incremental change can make an important, positive impact on reducing the risks associated with diabetes, including heart disease, kidney damage, and neuropathy. We were thrilled to see the improvements in patients’ reported quality of life.”

“By arming care providers with up-to-date information, families are no longer ‘flying in the dark’ with their diabetes care between appointments,” said Dr. Deneen Vojta, executive vice president of Research and Development at UnitedHealth Group. “With today’s technology, health care professionals can provide deeply informed, high-quality care, as frequently as needed. This detailed, near-real-time care will help patients in both the short term and the long term.”

Participants in the program met their health providers quarterly and followed a specific reporting regime during the study. Each week participants uploaded and sent glucose data, insulin delivery, and exercise activity to their providers. The participants in the IRT study received weekly feedback in response to their submitted data from their assigned care teams. The frequent communication allowed providers to make quicker adjustments to the treatment regime based on the patient’s results. The members of the medical team also noted shorter clinic visits as a result of the weekly communication.

The study documented participants HbA1c level at the beginning and the end of the six month period. The IRT reduced their levels by 0.34 versus a reduction of 0.05 for the control group. The teenagers, ages 13-17, in the Intensive Remote Therapy group reduced their HbA1c by 0.5. Read the full published study here.

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