Telemedicine for diabetes care: the DIABTel approach towards diabetes telecare

E J Gómez, F del Pozo, M E Hernando
Medical Informatics, Médecine et Informatique 1996, 21 (4): 283-95
Telemedicine is modifying classical health care by providing effective solutions to an increasing number of new situations. This article summarizes the potential benefits made available by this technology in diabetes care, and describes in detail how the new DIABTel Telemedicine Service complements the daily care of diabetic patients. The basic functions of the telemedicine system include telemonitoring of patient's blood glucose data and self-management actions, and remote care from doctors to diabetic patients. The system's architecture comprises two main components: the Medical Workstation, a PC-based system to be used by physicians and nurses in Diabetes Day Centre units in hospitals, and the Patient Unit, a palmtop-computer to be used by patients in their day to day activities. Both components, in an integrated approach, offer tools to doctors and patients for data collection and management, viewing and interpretation modules, data/message exchange services and an interactive glucose/insulin simulator for educational purposes. The DIABTel telemedicine diabetes care procedure aims: (1) to improve communication of the patient with the hospital-based diabetologist, in between the patient's visits to the clinic; (2) to allow doctors to assess the patient's condition on a frequent basis (every week); (3) to help patients with management in the daily care of diabetes, and (4) to provide patients with a service of 'supervised autonomy', to increase patient's independence without decreasing the necessary continual support and supervision from the doctor. Finally, we discuss the practical problems, limitations and vital issues regarding implementation of the telemedicine service.

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