Telehealth…..A viable solution to so many of our health care problems.

Telehealth…..A viable solution to so many of our health care problems.

Last week I introduced the availability of technology to be used to wirelessly transmit your readings such as blood pressure, blood glucose levels, weight and more to our secure server for review by our nurses. Communication about the readings can then be by telephone or video conference with the nurse or dietician. What a great way to have frequent, easy access to help when you need it!!

So many diseases affect our lives and those of our friends and family. If uncontrolled, a particularly devastating one is Diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic condition that results from the body`s inability to sufficiently produce and/or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. Close to three million Canadians currently have Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. As many as one third of these people are unaware they have the disease. Type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90 % of all diagnosed cases and is one of the fastest growing diseases in Canada.

What are we going to do about this? The problem is that people, when diagnosed, go home with very little if any follow-up and teaching about how to manage it. We know that the health care system is over burdened and diabetic clinics serve growing numbers of people. Waiting for appointments leads to what is referred to in the health care world as “non-compliance. “ How is it that you are non-compliant when you have never been given the tools to be able to learn to manage your disease and adopt the plan as you own?

I believe the solution is to inform ourselves and learn everything we can in order to be successful at living with diabetes.  We have seen great results with using the technology for this purpose in our studies. People who have been Diabetic for years finally learn how to make the necessary changes to feel better and improve their quality of life.

There is a blood test, HbA1C, that measures the average blood glucose over the past two to three months. Many diabetic people do not know about or have this test done. It is a great indicator of how you are doing. A major UK study has found that a reduction of a high HbA1C level by just 1% can decrease the risk of Heart failure by 16%, of Heart Attack by 14%, of Stroke by 12%, of amputation by 43% and vision loss caused by diabetes by 37%.

It is estimated that 40% of Canadians with diabetes will develop long term complications. Approximately 80% of people living with diabetes will die as a result of a stroke or heart disease.

In 2005 there were approximately 400,000 adults with diabetes in Quebec. By the year 2016, this number is expected to double.


Donna Byrne , BScN, MSc