Nursing care for diabetics a click away

MCGILL (CAN) — Nursing through the use of smart phones and the Internet is an effective way to help patients with uncontrolled diabetes manage their care, according to a new study.

In a pilot project for the Public Health Agency of Canada, diabetic patients in four regions of Quebec—the Lower North Shore, the Îles de la Madeleine, and in two different areas in Montreal—submitted blood sugar readings to a nurse on a daily basis, using a secure website. Patients also answered a series of daily questions about exercise, diet, and food care practices.

Nurses monitored patient responses from a distance and provided appropriate follow-up as needed. If the patient’s readings were outside predetermined parameters, the values appeared in red in the system and an alarm was triggered. Nurses also sent patients appropriate educational material to support behavior modification and self-management.

“Patients with chronic diseases like diabetes, or who have gone through surgery, often have lots of questions and the doctors and nurses don’t always have the time to answer them,” says Antonia Arnaert, professor of nursing at McGill University. “My work is about trying to develop a new method of providing nursing care and tele-nursing has a big role to play there.”

Tele-monitoring is an avenue for health care delivery that is getting increasing attention as an effective means of delivering care to patients who are in remote locations, or whose health needs long-term monitoring.

“With tele-nursing, whether using video-conferencing or text-messaging, patients say they feel they get lots of attention from their nurses, because they know that they have their full attention for an hour,” Arnaert says.

“They said that tele-monitoring provided them with a sense of confidence in their ability to manage their diabetic condition themselves.”

The research was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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