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09-08-2011 | Diabetes | Article

Mobile phone technology helps diabetics manage blood glucose levels

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: A coaching intervention program in which diabetes patients use interactive software accessible on their mobile (cell) phones appears to be successful in helping them manage their glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels, US researchers report.

The software allows patients to enter data regarding their glucose levels, medication, and carbohydrate intake into a mobile phone and receive real-time feedback on steps they should take to manage their condition.

Charlene Quinn (University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA) and team report the findings from the Mobile Diabetes Intervention Study in the journal Diabetes Care. The study investigated whether primary care practices that offer the interactive mobile support are more effective in lowering patients' HbA1c levels than those that do not.

The intervention involved assigning primary care practices to either a usual care (control) group, a coach-only (CO) group, a coach primary care provider portal (CPP) group, or a CPP with decision support group (CPDS). Providers in the latter group had access to patient data that linked to standards of care and evidence-based guidelines.

The researchers divided 163 patients with elevated HbA1c between the four groups and monitored the effects of the care provided over a twelve month period.

Quinn and team report that the study groups' mean HbA1c at baseline was 9.4%.

By the end of the 12 months, they found that the mean HbA1c level had fallen by 1.6% in the CO group and 1.2% in the CPP group, compared with a 0.7% drop among patients under usual care. The mean HbA1c level among CPDS patients was decreased further still, by a significant 1.9%.

Commenting on the encouraging result in a press statement, Quinn says: "Previous randomized clinical trials have suggested that just a 1% decrease in HbA1c will prevent complications of diabetes."

The authors say that the widespread distribution of mobile phones and electronic communication, across socioeconomic, sex, and age groups, combined with the ability to process and communicate data in real time, make these modalities ideal platforms to create simple, effective, diabetes management programs.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Sally Robertson