A six-month study found that children and teenagers with Type I diabetes who participated in an intensive remote therapy pilot program saw improved blood glucose control compared to those who received traditional care.
The study, conducted by UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) and Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota, was published last month in the journal Pediatric Diabetes.
Kids who participated in the IRT pilot program used blood glucose monitoring systems to store and share their data remotely with healthcare providers. Researchers found that participants who uploaded their data more often experienced better outcomes.
“Managing Type I diabetes is a full-time job. It requires constant monitoring that can be disruptive to patients’ lives and be very challenging, particularly for children and teenagers,” pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Laura Gandrud of the Children’s Hospitals & Clinics of Minnesota McNeely Pediatric Diabetes Center said in prepared remarks. “We are optimistic about the potential for IRT therapies to help patients take better control of their diabetes and their overall health. Even incremental change can make an important, positive impact on reducing the risks associated with diabetes, including heart disease, kidney damage and neuropathy.”
All participants had quarterly visits to the clinic and were responsible for uploading and sending blood glucose data, insulin delivery information and fitness activity to their medical team each week. For people in the IRT group, a medical team responded to the participants’ results with a weekly email, recommending adjustments to the person’s treatment regiment if necessary.
Researchers assessed the patients’ HbA1c levels at the start and conclusion of the six-month pilot. People in the IRT cohort reduced their HbA1c by 0.34% over the trial period, versus 0.05% in the control group.
“By arming care providers with up-to-date information, families are no longer ‘flying in the dark’ with their diabetes care between appointments,” Dr. Deneen Vojta, EVP of R&D at UnitedHealth, added. “With today’s technology, health care professionals can provide deeply informed, high-quality care, as frequently as needed. This detailed, near-real-time care will help patients in both the short term and the long term.”
Researchers analyzing the data from the pilot program noted that three months into the program, they saw negligible changes in blood glucose control across the IRT group. The team explained that the best patient outcomes are linked to long-term and consistent use of the remote-monitoring tech.
“Innovations in diabetes technology and communications pathways allow patients to partner with their providers in Type I diabetes management like never before,” Aylin Altan, SVP or research at UnitedHealth’s OptumLabs, said. “If we can find a way to make maximum use of technology and collaborative decision-making with care providers, the standard of care for young patients with Type 1 diabetes will better position them to manage the disease through adulthood.”
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