Managing your diabetes and hypertension always has been critically important to your health – and is now even more important in the face of the covid-19 pandemic. Usually, managing these chronic conditions means trips to see your physician, but we know you’re trying to stay home as much as possible.
That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor about options to monitor and control your condition from the comfort of your home.
At the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, we’ve always focused on providing cutting-edge, innovative care to our members, and now we are redoubling our efforts to provide high-quality virtual care. One way we’re doing that is through the use of remote monitoring for our patients with diabetes or uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Our goal during the coronavirus pandemic is to limit our patients’ exposure to the virus and help them practice social distancing. By delivering effective care to our patients while they stay home, we are helping to stop the spread of this disease.
We are also committed to helping our patients who could become high risk for covid-19 complications manage their chronic conditions so they can stay as healthy as possible.
We know people with severe cardiac conditions or uncontrolled diabetes are at high risk for covid-19 complications. Patients with well-managed diabetes have the about the same chances of getting sick from covid-19 as the general population. But if blood sugar fluctuates widely, the body’s ability to fight the infection is compromised.
Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to a heart attack or stroke, and we know patients with severe heart disease are at higher risk for covid-19 complications. That’s why keeping blood pressure under control is more important than ever.
During this era of social distancing, remote data monitoring is especially helpful.
Patients with Diabetes
We regularly reach out to our patients with Type 2 diabetes to encourage them to enroll in remote monitoring, and we are renewing our efforts in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
To participate, patients need to meet eligibility criteria, including having a smartphone or tablet, an email address and a good understanding of English. They also must be between 18-75 years old; not be pregnant or have end-stage renal disease; and have A1c levels greater than 7.9 percent.
Patients who participate will be mailed a Bluetooth-enabled glucometer. Using a lancet and a monitoring strip, patients prick their finger, place a sample on the strip, and the glucose result is synched automatically to their medical charts. A medical professional reviews the blood sugar readings, and medication and lifestyle changes are implemented, if necessary, to help achieve glycemic control. All patients enrolled in the diabetes remote monitoring program communicate with a nurse about once a week.
Remote monitoring helps our patient and care teams effectively manage each patient’s blood sugar to prevent many diabetic complications, which can include nerve damage, kidney damage and heart disease, among others; it’s these complications that could result in poor outcomes if a patient were to get covid-19.
Patients with Hypertension
Patients with hypertension also can benefit from remote monitoring. Blood pressure readings are uploaded automatically from Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuffs. Traditionally, patients come in to the office to get a cuff, but we are now mailing them to patient homes to save a trip to the medical center.
The medical team views the blood pressure readings in the patient’s medical record and reaches out to the patient if readings are concerning. All patients enrolled in the remote blood pressure monitoring program will communicate with a nurse every two weeks.
We are currently reaching out to patients with high blood pressure to see if they are interested in remote monitoring. To be eligible, patients must have a smartphone or tablet with an internet connection and email access. They must be between 18-70 years old; have uncontrolled hypertension; not be pregnant or diagnosed with end-stage renal disease; and meet other criteria.
The benefits of remote monitoring are many.
- There are fewer in-person office visits and fewer phone calls for blood pressure or blood glucose reading check-ins.
- There’s increased data accuracy with less margin for human error in data reporting.
- And greater patient awareness of progress toward goals promotes accountability in making healthy choices and complying with treatment regimens.
With remote monitoring, the almost-instantaneous data sharing facilitates the delivery of timely treatment and promotes overall health and well-being.
Keeping our patients as healthy as possible is always our priority.
Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, P.C. (Permanente) is our network of over 1,500 physicians who practice in our medical centers located in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.