Improving life with diabetes using telehealth
You may monitor your diet and daily food intake as well as find an exercise routine on your phones.

Could you count on one hand the number of people you know with diabetes in Jamaica? Are you one of these people? Diabetes is one of the most common illnesses affecting the Jamaican population today. Telemedicine provides a great opportunity for diabetic patients to get treatment, knowledge and advice while remaining safe and healthy.

• Remote patient monitoring (RPM)

Telehealth facilitates around the clock monitoring of your condition via remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices. Patients are able to provide their physician with certain metrics including blood sugar levels and weight which can help monitor the illness as it progresses. Getting this information sent in frequently and even daily can be life-saving for a diabetic patient whose blood sugar levels can change and cause complications almost instantly. More frequent check-ins may allow you to assess changes in your health and get the treatment you need urgently. In the long run, this may also save you the cost of a hefty hospital bill had you caught on too late.

• Instant access to medical advice

As noted before, diabetic patients are at risk of sudden onset of symptoms due to changes in their blood sugar levels. These may be triggered by different things such as food, other medication, exercise or hormonal fluctuations. Telemedicine may allow you to receive instant access to a health-care provider who may give you a prescription, advice or even recommend you go into the hospital for further in-person treatment. You don't have to worry about the hassle of going into a doctors office the moment your symptoms start to change, a doctor is available right in your pocket via your handheld device or at your home via your computer.

• Assistance in lifestyle monitoring

For diabetic patients, monitoring your health is crucial for illness management. Your smartphone may also assist you in tracking a healthier lifestyle. You may monitor your diet and daily food intake as well as find an exercise routine on your phones. This will allow you to stay on track and remain as healthy as possible with these lifestyle monitoring tools.

• Telemedicine as support not a substitute

On the other hand, despite all its benefits, telemedicine cannot be a full substitute for in-person care especially if you do have a chronic illness such as diabetes. Diabetes does affect several parts of the body and if you are experiencing any new symptoms or having a hard time controlling your blood sugar, you should consult with your doctor in person. Diabetes can quickly turn into other health risks such as heart disease, kidney disease and even cause a stroke if left untreated or improperly treated. Examinations such as blood tests, eye exams and skin exams cannot be adequately done remotely.

Dr Ché Bowen, a digital health entrepreneur and family physician, is the CEO & founder of MDLink, a digital health company that provides telemedicine options. Check out the company's website at www.theMDLink.com. You can also contact him at drchebowen@themdlink.com.

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