Coordinated Care Management

December 07, 2011

AT&T Brings New Hope to Diabetes Patients in Ohio

More than 25 million adults and children in the U.S., or almost nine percent, have diabetes. In Ohio, where the incidence of diabetes has increased from six to 10 percent in the last 10 years, AT&T is now offering a telemonitoring service to help manage the disease.

Adding to the problem, 15 percent of the population lives in poverty, and the prevalence of diabetes among adults with an annual income less than $25,000 is more than 32 percent. 

Even though more and more people are being diagnosed with diabetes and other chronic illnesses as the population ages, telemonitoring and mHealth are helping patients to live – and be – better by allowing them to monitor their health much more closely.

In Ohio, Medicaid coverage available to low-income patients living with diabetes has helped save lives, according to a press release at Today, thanks to a new mobile health program led by AT&T and Centene, the largest Medicaid provider in Ohio, diabetes patients now will be able to take management of their disease into their own hands, at home, while monitored remotely by doctors.

Under a six-month agreement between AT&T and Centene, a limited group of high-risk diabetes patients under Centene's Buckeye Community Health Plan will have access to AT&T mHealth Solutions Presents DiabetesManager, an enterprise mHealth solution from AT&T and WellDoc, according to the press release.

The solution, approved by the FDA, offers patients real-time tips and advice based on their individual data. Even more important, they now have the use of DiabetesManager to not only “track food consumption and blood sugar levels, but to take better control of self-management of their type 2 diabetes to support them in establishing long-term healthy habits and improved quality of life,” according to the press release.Centene nurse case managers can monitor patients virtually, so they can more efficiently intervene when necessary, easily and with high security, thanks to this technology.

The statistics are frightening: approximately 13 percent within the black and Hispanic communities in Ohio have diabetes, according to the press release. Medicaid expenditures on diabetes patients represent more than 23 percent of Ohio's Medicaid allotment, but this figure is less than seven percent of the Medicaid population overall, based on 2004 statistics, according to the press release.

“This is a group that doesn't get cell phones for work, and some may have never used a smartphone before,” said Dr. Mary Mason, chief medical officer of Centene, in the press release, noting that DiabetesManager is operational on a broad range of cell phones, not only smartphones.

“Diabetes patients in this program are faced with issues that extend beyond their daily health concerns, and our team is prepared to meet with them individually to train them and establish new habits in using this innovative mHealth solution,” Mason said in the press release. “Managing the disease is a difficult road for any patient.”

According to the press release, only 39 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes succeed in proper self-management, according to The Diabetes Attitudes Wishes and Needs (DAWN) study.

Deborah DiSesa Hirsch is an award-winning health and technology writer who has worked for newspapers, magazines and IBM in her 20-year career. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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