The Dubai Diabetes Centre (DDC) announced that they are conducting a study on the effectiveness of virtual health follow-ups for patients using home monitoring devices, mobile technologies and software to track daily patient data and plan interventional strategies in real time to avoid complications from the disease.
The study was announced during Humaid Al Qutami, Director-General of Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA), visit to the centre.
Al Qutami said, “DHA strongly focuses on technology to better patient care, improve efficiencies and drive down costs the of healthcare. In the current healthcare climate, globally, there is been a surge in the importance of telehealth. At DHA, we aim to continue employing various technologies that fit the nuances of the healthcare landscape in the emirate with an aim to empower patients by providing them with timely assistance and follow-up, leading to improved personalised patient care. We are keen to continue medical research to help empower patients and further improve patient care and compliance.”
The aim of this study is to provide diabetics with home monitoring devices and regularly receive data from them so that we can keep a close eye on their condition.
Dr M. Hamed Farooqi, Director of Dubai Diabetes Centre, said, “Diabetes is a chronic disease and one that needs regular follow-ups to avoid complications. In general, over time, patient compliance reduces and they tend to miss follow-up appointments and healthcare providers need to constantly remind patients to adhere to their follow-up schedule.
“Even a gap of three to six months with no follow-up can be severely detrimental to diabetic patients, especially those with other comorbidities. Therefore, the aim of this study is to provide diabetics with home monitoring devices and regularly receive data from them so that we can keep a close eye on their condition.”
He said the study will take place until the end of December and the aim is to evaluate the effectiveness of telemonitoring devices in glycaemic control and its effectiveness to help improve blood glucose control remotely.
Presently diabetics have home monitoring devices which they use to check their blood sugar and blood pressure. They store the data on the devices and when they go for their follow-up appointment, which is typically every two to three months, the endocrinologist sees the data at one go.
During this period, if the numbers are higher than usual the patient has to contact Dubai Diabetes Centre and schedule a phone consultation or an appointment.
For this study, the DDC coordinated with Cognitive Healthcare International (CHI) and they designed the devices and software based on the DDC’s requirements for the study.
Forty patient study
Forty patients were selected for the study. They were provided with four home-monitoring devices: a blood pressure monitor, a blood glucose monitor, heart rate monitor and pulse oximeter. Additionally, they were provided with a pill box containing their medications. The box beeps every day at the time that the medicine needs to be taken. If they don’t take the medicine on time or miss taking their medicine, the data is immediately sent to the centre.
The patients were also given a mobile phone, which is placed closely to the devices at the time the patient uses their home monitoring devices to transfer the information.
Dr Farooqi said, “The mobile has software that captures all of the patient data and automatically sends it to our centre. In the data room, the data gets automatically triaged as green, yellow and red based on artificial intelligence. Green means the results are fine, yellow means the readings are slightly abnormal and red means that the levels are such that the patient needs intervention. If the data falls under the yellow category, the patient is automatically sent a push notification, which informs them that the results are slightly abnormal, and therefore the patient needs to take the necessary measures as already advised by healthcare providers. If the data falls under the red category, the patient gets a call from DDC and the healthcare provider can provide a phone consultation or request them to visit the centre for further consultation.”
“At the end of every week, the doctor receives a weekly patient report for each patient,” says Dr Farooqi. “This kind of real time monitoring helps the patient stay on track and also ensures there is no delay in terms of physical consultation, which means complications can be greatly reduced which is important given the nature of the disease.”
He says that they are currently testing a video call feature for this study.
Dr Farooqi says the study will be completed by early next year and then the centre will evaluate the effectiveness of virtual monitoring for diabetics and whether it should be utilised.