WellDoc Systems See Results

A recent study found that Type 2 Diabetes patients who used the WellDoc mobile phone system saw a significant drop in blood glucose levels over the course of one year. With 163 participants, the study was one of the largest of its kind, and it will be published in the September edition of Diabetes Care. As Health2News mentioned a few weeks ago, researchers showed that patients who used the WellDoc DiabetesManager had an average decline in A1C readings of 1.9 percent while control patients only saw a decrease of 0.7 percent.

The WellDoc Diabetes Manager is the first mobile health solution approved by the FDA and will be commercialized this fall. The mobile application transforms a patient’s phone into a handheld coaching device to be used in conjunction with their web-based program and regular checkups with a physician. The system provides patients with real-time behavioral tips and instructions based on self-reported information and data generated by a glucose meter device. For example, if a patient’s sugar levels are consistently low after breakfast, the system will ask the patient if they feel their accurately counting their intake of carbohydrates. If the patient feels they’re doing a poor job, the system prompts the patient to see a registered dietician to get advice. Closing the loop, physicians are able to stay better informed as this recorded data is delivered to them via a secure WellDoc server.

WellDoc isn’t the only company reporting positive results with automated coaching systems. A joint study by dLife and Geisinger followed patients who successfully used an online program in conjunction with regular doctor checkups to monitor their diabetes. System users saw A1C readings 0.8 percent lower than nonusers of the system and found that dLife users scored significantly higher on a diabetes knowledge test. An ongoing study by MedAdherence found that, after six months, patients who visited their doctor and worked a supplemental program reported lower A1C levels than those who received their usual care.

Encouraging results from these studies will hopefully promote the development of similar applications to manage other illnesses. WellDoc founder, Dr. Suzanne Sysko Clough explained, “[w]e hope to see more mHealth trials that reveal the benefits of clinically relevant, non-pharmacologic products designed to support the daily management of chronic diseases.” Intervention systems can help to better coordinate care between patients and doctors, helping both to better monitor the patient’s disease and improve long term patient engagement.

The nearly 2 percent drop in WellDoc patients’ A1C readings means more than just better health. The CDC estimates every percentage point decrease can reduce the risk of diabetes complications by 40 percent- dramatically reducing cost for the individual and the system as a whole. Ideally, mobile health programs and similar systems will help patients to take charge of their chronic conditions, leading more patients to avoid the preventable costs associated with these complications. With an overwhelming amount of federal money spent on diabetes care — one out of every five U.S. health care dollars, according to the American Diabetes Association — the entire health care system will benefit from reduced spending in this area.

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