A new study by the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System and University of Michigan has revealed that "Telehealth programs" could help low-income patients across the globe manage diabetes and other chronic diseases.
"Telehealth programs have been shown to be very helpful in a variety of contexts, but one of the main limitations for delivering these services in the developing world has been a lack of infrastructure," author John D. Piette, a senior research scientist with the VA and professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, has said.
Taking advantage of the broad connectivity in Latin America, researchers linked cell phones with low-cost internet-based phone calls to conduct the survey. The service used a cloud computing approach so that the program can be provided from a central location to low income countries across the world that lack a strong technological infrastructure.
Researchers connected to the enrolled diabetic patients from a clinic in a semi-rural area of Honduras, on a weekly basis, and helped them to improve their diabetes management skills and general health.
Researchers reportedly noticed improvement in patients' hemoglobin A1C, a measure of blood sugar control, during the sixth week of their study.
"We wanted to demonstrate that it was possible to deliver a high-tech program from U-M to very vulnerable patients with diabetes in Honduras who only have local cell phone service," Piette says.
The study said the developing world faces a cardiovascular disease crisis because of its dependence of fast food, and the number of people with diabetes across the world is expected grow from 285 million to 439 million by 2030. iette's study has been applauded by many veterans.
"We believe the work of Dr. Piette and his colleagues represents an important and sustainable milestone in innovative global health strategies for the prevention, diagnosis, and management of non-communicable diseases. This work truly stands the chance to improve the health of millions of people in a relatively short time," U-M Global Health Director Sofia D. Merajver, said.