The prevalence of diabetes is expected to continue rising as the population of older Americans and ethnic groups at risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D) grows, and as patients diagnosed with diabetes live longer.
People diagnosed with T2D must consistently monitor their diet, lifestyle choices, and glucose levels. Monitoring is a constant struggle that, despite its necessity, can be daunting, inconvenient, and difficult. Technology has enabled us to better manage our lives. How often are health care professionals, especially pharmacists, asking and engaging patients to use their technology to help better manage their T2D? Digital health technology and buddy systems are 2 ways in which pharmacists can help patients with T2D be responsible, accountable, and engaged in their health.
Digital Health Technology
Wearables, telemedicine, and mobile tracking of health information continue to grow in the digital health markets. One trend is that more individuals in the United States will continue to use more mobile devices and fewer laptops or desktops to help them manage their lives. However, for a greater mainstream adoption of these tools, privacy and data sharing standards are needed to ensure that the data is secure and HIPPA compliant. People want to be in control of their health data and feel confident as to how the data will or will not be used. Second, the cost of wearables may be cost prohibitive for some communities.
As the use of the mobile devices continues to grow and replace laptops and desktops, tracking health information via mobile devices should be encouraged. Pharmacists have a great opportunity to engage patients and to gain a broader picture of their patients’ profiles. For example, pharmacists can check out what apps are out there to capture the data, explore what types of data are being captured to help identify gaps, and create different actions or start new behaviors that will work for their patients–maybe even set up reward systems for patients’ success.
Buddy System – It Takes a Village
A buddy system online or offline is key to helping people stay motivated and accountable. It takes a village to help manage patients diagnosed with diabetes. Forming online or offline networks that patients can join where they can feel empowered to share their progress or lack thereof is important. Providing a nonjudgmental and safe environment can allow patients to share their story, learn, and have a voice to ask for and provide support and encouragement to others when needed.
Patients want to be treated and to be heard. Customizing care through technological tools and through networking are areas where health care professionals can connect, relate, and understand the patient to help them feel more empowered about their care. Engagement, empowerment, control, and community are all keys to improving patient T2D management.