For patients with underlying health conditions, the COVID-19 pandemic has made clinic waiting rooms a dangerous place. Consequently, many people living with diabetes are staying at home.
Because people with diabetes need constant monitoring and adjustments to their insulin, patients without care risk damage to their health. Furthermore, isolation leads to an impact on mental well-being, while maintaining a healthier lifestyle has also become more challenging.
Fortunately, there is one solution that can help diabetes sufferers to mitigate their COVID-19 risk and continue receiving treatment – telehealth. In this article, you’ll find out how digital healthcare is helping people with diabetes to cope with the current global challenges.
What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes?
Below are all common symptoms of diabetes:
- Increased hunger
- Hands and feet that are either numb or tingling
- Unintended weight loss
- Extreme thirst
Type 2 diabetes is sometimes caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices, like excessive sugar consumption and a lack of physical activity.
The causes of Type 1 diabetes are still not very well known, but it often begins developing in childhood and young adulthood. Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes can be very severe, requiring constant monitoring of blood glucose levels.
How COVID-19 Has Impacted the Lives of Diabetes Sufferers
Patients with diabetes are recognized as one of the groups at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms. Due to this increased risk, clinics have become more dangerous for diabetics since the start of the pandemic. Combined with travel restrictions, this has led to diabetes patients finding healthcare more challenging to access.
Also impacting diabetes patients is the reallocation of healthcare resources. In a WHO survey looking at the impact of COVID-19 on non-communicable diseases, the organization said:
“In the majority (94%) of countries responding, ministry of health staff working in the area of NCDs were partially or fully reassigned to support COVID-19.”
The WHO then went on to say:
“The most common reasons for discontinuing or reducing services were cancellations of planned treatments, a decrease in public transport available, and a lack of staff because health workers had been reassigned to support COVID-19 services.”
“In one in five countries (20%) reporting disruptions, one of the main reasons for discontinuing services was a shortage of medicines, diagnostics, and other technologies.”
Why Diabetes Sufferers Must Continue Receiving Healthcare During the Pandemic
In the US, the number of people reporting anxiety symptoms has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 crisis. Between January and June 2019, 11% of adults said they experienced anxiety. By January 2021, that number had risen to 41.1%.
For people with diabetes, not having access to healthcare can lead to uncertainty and additional stress. In turn, these factors can result in anxiety and other mental health issues. Because stress raises blood glucose levels and reduces glucose tolerance, it’s especially important to tend to the mental health of these patients.
Those with diabetes may also need help maintaining an active lifestyle during COVID-19. The closure of offices and cultural institutions has led to people spending more time at home, and gyms’ disrupted services have made exercising more difficult for some.
Most importantly, people with diabetes also need support to keep up with monitoring and adjusting their medication. Not doing so can lead to dangerous complications, including damage to the patient’s blood vessels, kidneys, and eyes.
What Digital Healthcare Includes, and How It Helps Diabetes Sufferers
Digital healthcare is one solution to patients’ limited clinical access. The concept includes three main areas: remote patient monitoring (RPM), telehealth, and telemedicine.
RPM relates to monitoring patients without them needing to visit a clinic. Doctors can check their patients’ conditions at any time without them having to book regular appointments.
With RPM platforms, doctors can also change patients’ care in real time based on their present needs.
Telehealth involves performing health-related services through technology (such as glucose monitors that feed results back to the doctor’s office). Doctors can use telehealth platforms to offer advice and provide mental health support.
Telehealth is particularly useful for patients based in rural locations.
As mentioned by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), telemedicine is slightly different from telehealth. While the term telehealth can include non-clinical services, telemedicine is purely clinical.
How Digital Healthcare Can Help Diabetes Sufferers
Besides limiting physical contact, digital healthcare can help ensure that diabetes patients keep on top of their medication. Doctors can also monitor patients’ conditions without needing to meet them in person.
Digital healthcare can also help diabetes sufferers by allowing doctors to oversee their condition and offer education and advice. Moreover, such technology could also help diabetes sufferers to lower their healthcare costs in the long run.
How Chronwell Can Help
ChronWell offers services designed to improve access to healthcare for patients with diabetes during and after the pandemic. We offer RPM and telehealth services to help institutions provide the best possible care from a remote location.
All of ChronWell’s technology was developed by a team of experts in the healthcare sector. Patients can regularly check in with their doctors and receive reminders and adjustments to medication without needing to step out their door.