Digital literacy must be addressed among people with type 1 diabetes to improve virtual care, study finds

By Editor
6th January 2022
Diabetes care, Technology Type 1 diabetes

A report on healthcare professionals’ experiences of delivering remote care and diabetes technology training for people with type 1 diabetes during the pandemic has found that digital literacy was one of the main barriers to remote consultations.

Led by Dr Sufyan Hussain, from the Department of Diabetes and Endocrinology at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust, the study examined the responses from 143 HCPs, including diabetes physicians, diabetes educators and those working in adult services.

The findings, which have been published in Diabetic Medicine, highlighted the most common barriers to remote consultations:

  • Patient familiarity with technology – 72 per cent
  • Access to patient device data – 67 per cent.

The team also assessed the impact on insulin pump training. A reduction in total new pump starts (73 per cent) and renewals (61 per cent) was highlighted, with common barriers including patient digital literacy (61 per cent), limited healthcare professional experience (46 per cent) and time required per patient (44 per cent).

The authors concluded: “While supportive of virtual care models, a number of factors highlighted, especially patient digital literacy, need to be addressed to improve virtual care delivery and device training.

“Implementation of digital training for staff and patients alike would overcome many barriers identified in this study.

“Further initiatives are required to address the barriers to effective remote working, especially digital literacy, as well as tackle issues from constraints in capacity and competencies to support clinically appropriate virtual consultations and care pathways beyond COVID-19.

“Future work also needs to focus on understanding clinical outcomes to develop further insight into effectiveness of remote consultations for long-term disease management.”

Read the study, Current provision and HCP experiences of remote care delivery and diabetes technology training for people with type 1 diabetes in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic, here.

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