NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “Discussing Diabetes: The Essential Conversation That Could Change the Health of the Nation”, which examines the idea of technology-enabled between-visit engagement to help patients with the prevention and management of diabetes. Download it HERE!
Discussing Diabetes shows that there is plenty of room for a conversation between patients with diabetes who are struggling to manage their weight and the medical professionals who are treating them. It also shows that both sides of that dialogue already have plenty of ideas about what could work. However, those ideas are not necessarily the same.
For example, seven in ten (70 percent) medical professionals believe that preparing healthy meals in advance, such as making lunch to bring to work, would help diabetic patients manage their weight more effectively. Interestingly, doctors are also more likely to be concerned about the amount of processed food the nation consumes, as well as portion size, and calorie information given in restaurants. But when diabetics who had tried to lose weight were asked what techniques had worked for them, one in four (24 percent) found that relying on home-prepared food had been successful.
In addition, more than half of all doctors (55 percent) felt that having friends or family on the same diet or workout regimen would be a successful strategy, but again only 16 percent of people with diabetes who had tried to lose weight had found it to be successful. In another example, nearly half of medical professionals felt that exercising in the morning would be a success strategy, but only a third (32 percent) of diabetics who had tried to lose weight found that the strategy worked for them.
On the other hand, there were areas where diabetic patients reported success but which were not highly recommended by doctors. For example, two in five (38 percent) diabetic patients said that they were more successful when they stopped weighing themselves every day. Only one in five (18 percent) of doctors would recommend this as a success strategy.
The Role of Doctor-Patient Communications
Most notable was the number of patients who said that receiving communications from their doctor between visits would motivate them. Among patients who already have diabetes, 28 percent said that hearing from their physician outside practice visits would be helpful in managing overall health and lifestyle issues. One in four diabetes patients also said they would be motivated to lose weight by a doctor telling them to shed pounds.
There are a number of doctors who are on board with the idea that more can be done to encourage patients to make lifestyle changes and do more to manage their condition between office visits. All of the following were raised as potential sources of support and encouragement:
- Emails with personalized tips from doctors between visits
- Text messages with personalized tips from doctors between visits
- Phone calls from doctors to discuss steps they should be taking between visits
- An in-person support group to discuss similar struggles
- An online support group to discuss similar struggles
Discussing Diabetes also shows that more than a third of all diabetic patients would feel in some way positive about receiving communications from doctors in between visits, and more than one in three (34 percent) would feel motivated to make a change to their at-home behaviors. Among parents with diabetes, more than two in five (43 percent) said they would be happy to receive communications from their doctor regarding their child’s health.
For doctors considering adopting the technique, it is perhaps worth noting that one in four adults with diabetes said they would be pleasantly surprised to receive communications between visits to their doctor.