• Ariel Chen

Telehealth for Diabetes Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic

There are no easy answers to the coronavirus pandemic, but for people with diabetes, it’s dismayingly difficult to untangle the thicket of biological and socioeconomic factors that make them more likely to suffer severe illness and die should they catch the virus that causes Covid-19. That leaves prevention — controlling blood sugar through diet, exercise, monitoring, and medication — as the leading tactic to protect people, until a successful vaccine proven to work in people with diabetes, too, reaches a population bearing multiple burdens of chronic illness.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there is not enough data to show whether people with diabetes are more likely to get COVID-19 than the general population. However, People with diabetes have much higher rates of serious complications and death than people without diabetes—and generally, ADA believes that the more health conditions someone have (for example, diabetes and heart disease), the higher their chance of getting serious complications from COVID-19. Older people are also at higher risk. When people with diabetes do not manage their diabetes well and experience fluctuating blood sugars, they are generally at risk for many diabetes-related complications. Having heart disease or other complications in addition to diabetes could worsen the chance of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, like other viral infections, because diabetic patients’ ability to fight off an infection is compromised. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show more than three-quarters of people who died from Covid-19 had at least one preexisting condition. Overall, diabetes was noted as an underlying condition for approximately 4 in 10 patients. Among people younger than 65 who died from the infection, about half had diabetes.

In general, People with obesity as a rule have lower cardiorespiratory fitness, meaning they can’t move as well due to poorer lung function, possibly severe sleep apnea, and blood vessel disease. And for sure, Covid-19’s impact on people with diabetes fits that pattern. Because of the new normal, It’s very difficult to reverse obesity or to meaningfully lose a sufficient amount of weight during the pandemic. Dr Patti, an adult endocrinologist at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston pointed “It makes it harder for people to meet their fitness goal, which is such a critical element of overall health and metabolic health.”

In my opinion, virtual care is a critical tool for people with diabetes during the Pandemic. Virtual health technologies provide patients with the opportunity to be more active participants in their own care plans. Many diabetic patients already inject themselves with insulin or monitor their blood sugar levels at home and remotely share the results. Progressing to virtual care feels like a natural next step for patients who are often self-reliant, making them ideal candidates to become some of the first-generation telemedicine adopters. It offers a lot of convenient and clinically responsible advantages when it comes to managing diabetes:

  1. Telehealth can enable round-the-clock digital monitoring, giving providers a 24-hour profile and a better understanding of the patient’s condition

  2. Digital health tools can work as a monitor to reach wellness goals, such as lose weight, lower blood pressure, and engage in healthy behavior to curb diabetes.

  3. Anxiety and depression can be treated effectively through telehealth

  4. A telemedical option can provide rural patients with more engagement opportunities to take care of their diabetes-related symptoms

  5. A lot of the treatments through telemedicine can potentially lower the economic burden on patients and healthcare systems

Additional resources are available here through ADA. Contact MicMD for more helps and tips.