Patients monitoring diabetes at home 'cope better than those seen only by GP'

Service where patients send blood glucose, blood pressure and weight measurements to nurses via device effective in managing type 2 diabetes

Patients monitoring diabetes and blood pressure at home cope better than those who only have face-to-face appointments with their doctor, scientists have found.

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Researchers say a service where patients submit their home blood glucose results to a website monitored by a nurse could provide better support to patients than traditional consultations.

University of Edinburgh researchers monitored 321 people with type 2 diabetes for nine months.

Half the group was looked after in line with current guidelines – visiting their GP at least once a year, and more if necessary.

The rest were asked to send measurements of their blood glucose, blood pressure and weight from home via telemonitoring devices, which record health information and send it directly to nurses.

Nurses regularly checked the results and contacted patients if they needed to adjust treatment or make lifestyle changes.

Positive findings

Researchers found patients in this group had significantly better control of their diabetes and blood pressure than those who were treated as usual.

The team now hopes to roll out the technology across NHS services.

Lead researcher Professor Brian McKinstry, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Medical Informatics, said: ‘Type 2 diabetes is a common condition for which self-management is vital.

‘Previous research has shown that asking patients to manage their blood sugar levels at home is ineffective.

‘This study suggests that if health information is sent directly to a GP, it can help doctors and nurses to decide which patients need help, further treatment and advice.’

The study, published in PLoS Medicine, was funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government.

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