ADA2020: A Look at Digital Diabetes Self-Management Support Programs

June 18, 2020

A study presented at the American Diabetes Association 80th Annual Scientific Sessions examined the impact of digital Diabetes Self-Management Support systems.

In a session presented virtually at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 80th Scientific Sessions, researchers from Pack Health determined that individuals with diabetes who have participated in a digital Diabetes Self-Management Support (DSMS) program displayed significant improvements in managing their diabetes.

The study, led by Dhiren Patel, PharmD, CDE, BC-ADM, reported improvements in physical health, medication adherence, stress, and body mass index (BMI) through the implementation of a digital delivery support system.

Diabetes support systems are meant to help patients implement and sustain certain skills and behaviors important for self-managing diabetes on an ongoing basis, and normally can be provided within a clinical or community setting. Often, though, certain barriers hinder attendance: logistical or financial issues such as timing and transportation, or medical issues such as pre-existing co-morbidities and disabilities. According to the investigators, a digital delivery system can help mitigate these issues.

The study enrolled a total of 1349 participants with A1c levels less than 9% in a 12-week digital DSMS program. Upon completion of the program, the participants were asked to wait for 3 months to gather conclusive data.

Participants were recruited by partner health plans, health systems, or employers and other partners, such as patient advocacy or CME organizations, and were enrolled through Pack Health registration forms and assigned a specific Health Advisor.

Of the 843 participants who completed and provided baseline and 3-month results, 44% were male and 66% were female. The average age within the sample was 53, and 15% lived in rural areas. Other demographics consisted of race, ethnicity, marital status, insurance coverage, and employment status. These demographics were included to understand mediators and moderators that may need to change in future studies.

The study results discovered that, across all A1c categories, patients exhibited improved physical health and medicine adherence, as well as decreased stress and BMI. In A1c categories where levels were at or above 7%, the study saw a decrease in A1c levels at month 3 compared to enrollment; this pattern was consistent with elevated A1c categories throughout the study.

Based on this data, the research group communicated that digital delivery support systems are capable of helping patients with managing their diabetes. However, to gain insights on the sustained impact that these systems have on patients, Patel asserted that future studies should expand the timeframe beyond the allotted 3-month period.

Reference

  1. Patterson J, Allison M, Brassil KJ, et al. Outcomes of a Digital Diabetes Self-Management Support Program Stratified by A1C. Presented at: The American Diabetes Association 80th Scientific Sessions; June 12-16; online.