Telemedicine is a viable option for treating diabetes among prison populations, according to a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

Researchers from SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse performed a chart review of telemedicine visits between an endocrinologist and 106 male diabetic inmates at 15 correctional facilities in upstate New York.

Telemedicine addresses not only transportation and security costs for inmate doctor visits, but increases access to specialists, the authors note.

Overall, the prisoners had elevated HbA1c levels, and improvements were found despite limited followup. Those with the highest levels showed the greatest gains, a 1.3 percent decrease. Gains also were recorded in blood pressure and lipid control.

The prisoners had a primary care physician treating their condition at their facilities.

The consultations were conducted with a 52-inch flat-panel LCD display and integrated audio-visual control system, which allowed the patient, a prison nurse and the endocrinologist to see and hear each other in real time.

Lab results, including A1c and lipid panels, medication list, allergies and problem lists, were faxed to the endocrinologist beforehand. The researchers noted, however, that a glucose meter with the ability to send results remotely would have helped the doctor.

Followup was a problem, either based on prisoner availability or cancellation by the prison. The endocrinologist recommended follow-up visits for all patients within two to four months, but this happened for only 48.7 percent of inmates. Only 58 had at least one follow-up HbA1c level recorded.

To learn more:
– check out the study

Related Articles:
How telemedicine benefits patients in prison
Texas prisons turn to telemedicine to reduce costs
Jails need HIE as a bridge to outside care

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