Telehealth as an alternative to traditional, in-person diabetes self-management support

Amy Burchard, Tina Sadarangani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of administering diabetes self-management support (DSMS) via telephone or secure messaging. Design. Prospective, longitudinal quasi-experimental study. Setting and participants. Participants (n = 150) who had previously completed diabetes self-management education (DSME) received follow-up DSMS in 1 of 3 selfselected ways: a one-time in-person visit, 3 brief visits by telephone, or via secure messaging via the electronic health record. The (usual care) in-person group (n = 47) received 1 follow-up appointment at the patient's request with a certified diabetes educator (CDE) within 3 to 6 months of DSME completion. The telephone group (n = 44) was given follow-up phone appointments with a CDE, each lasting approximately 20 minutes, at 3, 6, and 9 months post-DSME. The secure message group (n = 59) received follow-up messages via the patient portal from a CDE at 3, 6, and 9 months post-DSME. At each interval, patients received 3 messages, an initial one followed by 2 structured replies. Motivational interviewing techniques were used in all 3 groups to identify barriers to achieving behavior goals and solutions. Main outcome measures. Behavior goal measures, feasibility measures, and physiologic measures at 9 months' post DSME. Behavior goal achievement was measured using a survey that asked patients to rate their achievement regarding the following AADE7 goals: healthy eating, being active, self-monitoring, taking medications, problem solving, reducing risks, and healthy coping. Goals are rated on a scale from 0 to 10, with a rating ≥ 7 considered successful completion. Feasibility to integrate this technology into a DSME platform was assessed by comparing the number of attempts to contact patients with the number of contacts achieved; also calculated was intervention completion, mean time spent with the CDE, and total cost of each visit. Physiologic measures included HbA1C and LDL levels collected through medical record review. Results. There were no statistically significant differences between groups with respect to any of the primary outcomes. Behavioral goals were achieved by 59% of the in-person group, 73% of the telephone group, and 77% of the secure message group . Mean goal achievement for all 3 groups combined improved from 6.2 ± 2.4 to 7.2 ± 1.8 (P < 0.05). Overall, 70.3% ± 0.46% achieved behavioral goals, with no difference among groups. In terms of feasibility, at 3 months the contact success rate was 39%, 46%, and 29% in the in-person, telephone, and secure message groups, respectively. At 6 months, the contact success rate was 47% in the phone group versus 32% in the secure message group. At 9 months, the contact success rate was 35% in the phone group versus 21% in the secure message group. Sixty-two participants (41%) completed the intervention per protocol: 51% of in-person patients, 47% of phone patients, and 28% of secure message patients (P < 0.02). Visits lasted and cost, on average, 60 minutes and $50.00, 45.3 minutes and $37.75, and 17.8 minutes (P < 0.05) and $14.83 for the in-person, telephone, and secure message groups, respectively. There was no difference in HbA1c among groups. Overall, HbA1c decreased by -0.88% ± 1.63 (P < 0.05) from baseline to 9 months. Change in LDL was not significant, and neither were there statistical differences among groups. Conclusion. Diabetes follow-up care delivered via telephone and secure messaging is feasible. Using either of these methods results in similar outcomes compared with the traditional in-person visit, while requiring less staff time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)495-496
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Clinical Outcomes Management
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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