The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Minority Health, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and AT&T* announced on September 12 an initiative to evaluate the use of mobile devices to deliver Diabetes Self-Management Training (DSMT) within an underserved minority community in Dallas, Texas.
DSMT is a collaborative process through which people with or at risk for diabetes gain the knowledge and skills needed to modify behavior and successfully self-manage the disease and its related chronic conditions. DSMT must be prescribed by a Medicare beneficiary's healthcare provider in order to be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.
The initiative is intended to measure the effectiveness of evidence-based DSMT interventions delivered to participants by diabetes educators using mobile health (mHealth) programming.
Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and racial and ethnic minorities continue to have higher rates of diabetes after adjusting for population age differences, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the published report1, "A Patient-Centric, Provider-Assisted Diabetes Telehealth Self-management Intervention for Urban Minorities," African Americans, particularly inner-city residents, are likely to be medically underserved, without access to constant provider monitoring. The same report states that most people with diabetes are treated in a healthcare provider's office with little or no self-management training or provider interaction between visits.
"The Office of Minority Health is excited to collaborate on a consumer-focused health information technology (IT) initiative that will have the opportunity to significantly improve access to education on diabetes, which is such a critical health issue for minority communities," said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Garth N. Graham, M.D. "We applaud both the AADE and AT&T for their support and vision, and hope this work will stimulate more efforts to extend the use of health IT into underserved minority communities."
AT&T will contribute $100,000 to the AADE to fund the study and provide approximately 150 smartphones with voice and data plans for the patients, diabetes educators and other education personnel. The diabetes educators will deliver DSMT to patients using a video application on the mobile devices.
"People of color are at higher risk for diabetes, and we're pleased to be part of this unique effort to help diabetes educators effectively use mHealth to aid those who need the most help managing their disease," said Xavier Williams, Senior Vice President, Public Sector and Healthcare at AT&T. "With proactive management of chronic diseases like diabetes, it could potentially help to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs."
The AADE is in negotiations with the Dallas-based Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute, an accredited DSMT program and an affiliate of Baylor Health Care System and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, to recruit participants for the study. Once complete, the AADE will also evaluate the project, with support from the Office of Minority Health.
"Telehealth and mHealth have the potential to greatly increase access to health services such as DSMT, which has been proven to reduce complications associated with diabetes," said AADE Chief Executive Officer Lana Vukovljak. "This project is critical to evaluating mHealth and demonstrating whether it results in positive health outcomes comparable to face-to-face interactions. If so, it can be a solution to the challenge of providing diabetes education and meeting the needs of people in underserved populations with diabetes."
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc. AT&T is a registered trademark of AT&T Intellectual Property.
1 Ernest L. Carter, MD, PhD; Gail Nunlee-Bland, MD, FACE, FAAP; and Clive Callender, MD, FACS. "A Patient-Centric, Provider-Assisted Diabetes Telehealth Self-management Intervention for Urban Minorities." Perspectives in Health Information Management (Winter 2011): 1-9.