Several clinics in the UK have launched trial virtual clinics targeted at improving healthcare for people with type 1 diabetes.
At the recent Diabetes UK 2016 Professional Conference, attendees heard that people with diabetes in the UK spend an average of just three hours a year with a healthcare professional.
To address this, virtual clinics and other forms of remote contact have been set up to improve patients’ access to healthcare professionals.
King’s College Hospital, London, have 27,000 patients with type 1 diabetes on their books, according to diabetes specialist nurse Geraldine Gallen. Because of this demand, patients often only get “one appointment slot per year”.
The hospital decided to trial a virtual clinic, targeting two different groups of patients. The first are “motivated, have completed the structured education program [Dose Adjustment For Normal Eating] DAFNE, have good HbA1c and just need to touch base occasionally”; the second “have high diabetes distress, psychological issues, and are at risk of hypoglycemia”.
The virtual clinic gives patients slots of 20 minutes with a specialist nurse to go through their blood glucose results and insulin levels, which can be downloaded using software such as Carelink or Diasend. Skype was used to communicate originally, but patients struggled to read downloads and use it at the same time, so the switch was made to telephone.
The virtual clinic concept has also been set up at Newham University Hospital, where a Skype appointment system is used.
Diabetologist Dr. Shanti Vijayaraghavan noted how useful this has become for people who struggle to take an afternoo, or even a whole day off to attend the clinic.
Elsewhere, a nationwide program called My Diabetes, My Way has been launched under the Scottish Care Information Diabetes Collaboration. This is an electronic diabetes healthcare record that patients can access themselves.
The University of Dundee’s Deborah Wake MBChB, PhD, MRCPE, noted that My Diabetes, My Way is “integrated with Diasend” for patients to download their data and set themselves targets.
Dr. Wake added that this program could be implemented across the UK and further improve patient care for people with type 1 diabetes.