To evaluate the usage and safety of an electronic case manager (ECM) system designed to facilitate the task of glycemic control. Sustained improvement in blood glucose control is the proven treatment outcome that will reduce or eliminate the long-term complications of diabetes.
A customized microcomputer system served as the ECM. Located at the clinic, this voice-interactive system required the remote patient to need only a touch-tone telephone. Patients accessed the system to report daily selfmeasured glucose levels or hypoglycemic symptoms together with associated lifestyle events. System beta-testing was in an open-case series (n = 184) in an academic diabetes center with the goal of evaluating the ECM in terms of utilization, frequency of crises, and fiscal matters.
Of the patients, 58% (n = 107) actively used the ECM for their daily diabetes care, accumulating 788 patient-months of follow-up. Over 45,000 telephone calls were received by the ECM during the start-up year. Each call was processed instantly and automatically. Patients benefited from having 24-h access to the ECM. Prevalence of diabetes-related crises (hyperglycemia =400 mg/dl [22 mmol/1] or hypoglycemia <50 mg/dl [2.8 mmol/1]) decreased approximately threefold (P < 0.05), with a concomitant statistically significant decrease in HbA1c of 0.8% at 6 months (n = 45, P = 0.024) and 0.9% at 12 months (n = 30, P = 0.044). The ECM provided 24-h on-line assistance in adjusting daily insulin and/or tablet therapy, automatic generation of standardized medical reports, electronic medical-legal documentation, as well as a marked reduction in the time spent on the phone with patients. Clinic visits in managing complex diabetes were reduced approximately twofold (P < 0.0001), and the effort spent by case managers was estimated.
Patients with diabetes who accessed the ECM system received timely, cost-effective, and reliable medical intervention. This reduced the incidence of diabetic crises and the need for frequent clinic visits. The ECM empowers case managers to provide safer and superior diabetes care.