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Internet technologies may be ‘key’ to treating diabetes

A newly released university study suggests that Internet technologies may be key to overcoming the challenge to Australia’s healthcare system of managing and treating diabetes.

The study by Victoria’s Monash University monitored 577 diabetes patients over 14 months, with the Medical Journal of Australia reporting that, with the use of an Internet-based care management service, cdmNet, the patients whose care was supported by the service, had showed significant improvements in quality of care and clinical outcomes.

The Internet-based service was developed by Precedence Health Care, who assist general practitioners and patients to manage chronic disease and other illnesses.

According to Precedence Health Care CEO, Professor Michael Georgeff, the study suggests that improvement in clinical outcomes is related to the level of coordination among the care team and with the patient.

“It also indicates that patients are more likely to adhere to their plan when it is regularly reviewed and followed up by the GP and the care team.”

Professor Georgeff said that using cdmNet, any member of the patient’s care team can access the patient’s health record and care plan, including the GP, specialists, allied health, pharmacists, and the patient themselves.

“They can do this from anywhere, anytime, while maintaining data privacy and security. Everyone on the team knows what everyone else is doing, all the time.”

Professor Georgeff said the results of the study showed that 80% of patients on a care plan created and managed using cdmNet were regularly reviewed and followed up compared with national figures indicating fewer than 20% follow up of (non-cdmNet) patients.

And, of those patients who received regular reviews (85%) adhered to best practice care compared with 59% otherwise.

Professor Georgeff said that, comparing patients before and after the use of cdmNet, significant improvements were observed in:

•    HbA1c*, the surrogate measure of blood glucose levels, fell from a mean of 8.4% to 7.4% for patients with an initially high HbA1c

•    Lower total cholesterol (4.6 to 4.3 mmol/L); and

•    Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol (2.6 to 2.3 mmol/L)

“How to put this into practice is the challenge. GPs’ waiting rooms are full of people with a chronic illness.

“Trying to keep track of what everyone is doing or not doing places a huge burden on GPs and practices, especially when communications among the team are limited to fax, telephone tag and hand delivery of patient information.

“Without the use of advanced Internet and mobile technologies, one simply cannot achieve the level of coordination and follow up needed for these patients.

“More than seven million Australians have a chronic disease, costing the health care system more than $70 billion per year. The losses to the economy through reduced workforce participation rates and productivity are more than $8 billion per year. Diabetes alone accounts for nearly a quarter of avoidable hospitalisations and 9% of deaths.

“It will be impossible to maintain a sustainable health care system without the use of these technologies,” Professor Georgeff concluded.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).