US government studying mHealth, partners with AT&T and diabetes educators

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Three large organizations have recently come to Dallas, Texas in an effort to help educate and train an underserverd minority community that is at risk for or currently has diabetes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Minority Health, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) and AT&T have partnered on an initiative to evaluate the use of  mobile devices to deliver Diabetes Self-Management Training (DSMT) within this community.

“DSMT is a collaborative process through which people with or at risk for diabetes gain the knowledge and skills needed to modify behavior and successfully self-manage the disease and its related chronic conditions. DSMT must be prescribed by a Medicare beneficiary’s healthcare provider in order to be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.”

The initiative will use diabetes educators and personnel to measure the effectiveness of evidence-based DSMT interventions delivered to participants.

“Telehealth and mHealth have the potential to greatly increase access to health services such as DSMT, which has been proven to reduce complications associated with diabetes,” said AADE Chief Executive Officer Lana Vukovljak. “This project is critical to evaluating mHealth and demonstrating whether it results in positive health outcomes comparable to face-to-face interactions. If so, it can be a solution to the challenge of providing diabetes education and meeting the needs of people in underserved populations with diabetes.”

One of the partners, AT&T, has pledged to donate $100,000 to the AADE and is also going to provide 150 smartphones with sufficient voice and data plans for the diabetes educators and the participants. The diabetes educators will deliver DSMT to patients via a video app on the smartphones, although the specific video application is not named.

Recruits for the study are being drawn from the local organizations and hospitals.

“The AADE is in negotiations with the Dallas-based Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute, an accredited DSMT program and an affiliate of Baylor Health Care System and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, to recruit participants for the study.  Once complete, the AADE will also evaluate the project, with support from the Office of Minority Health.”

Because of the high rates of diabetes in the US, this initiative, if successful, will provide another method of transfering important knowledge to help prevent and treat the disease.

“The Office of Minority Health is excited to collaborate on a consumer-focused health information technology (IT) initiative that will have the opportunity to significantly improve access to education on diabetes, which is such a critical health issue for minority communities,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Garth N. Graham, M.D. “We applaud both the AADE and AT&T for their support and vision, and hope this work will stimulate more efforts to extend the use of health IT into underserved minority communities.”

Source:  PRNewswire

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