Background: Patients with insulin dependent diabetes require frequent advice if their metabolic control is suboptimal. A telemedical system for transmission of self monitoring blood glucose values from the patients' home to the diabetes center with a combined modem-interface is described. Data are processed by PC and advice is given by telephone. The study focuses on metabolic outcome, fiscal and administrative aspects.
Methods: A prospective, randomized trial with 46 patients with intensified insulin therapy was conducted, 30 patients used telecare and 16 conventional care.
Results: HbA1c, as a parameter of metabolic control, dropped from 8.3% to 7.3% in the telecare group and from 8.0% to 6.8% in the conventional group after 8 months of observation. There was no significant difference between the two groups. Time expenditure for telemanagement, compared to conventional advice, was moderately higher, but there was a substantial amount of time on the patients side that could be saved mainly by reduction of to travel time and work stoppage. Setting up an optimal telemanagement scenario a cost analysis was done. This yields a cost saving of about 650 EURO per year.
Conclusion: Telemanagement of insulin-requiring diabetic patients is a cost and time saving procedure for the patients and results in metabolic control comparable to conventional outpatient management.