Telemedicine as a tool for intensive management of diabetes: the DIABTel experience

Comput Methods Programs Biomed. 2002 Aug;69(2):163-77. doi: 10.1016/s0169-2607(02)00039-1.


This paper presents the current features of the DIABTel telemedicine system and the evaluation outcomes of its use in clinical routine. This telemedicine system is designed to complement the daily care and intensive management of diabetic patients through telemonitoring and telecare services. The system comprises a patient unit (PU) used by patients in their day-to-day activities and a Medical Workstation used by physicians and nurses at hospitals. Both applications offer tools to collect, manage, view and interpret data and to exchange data and messages. The system was evaluated for usability, telemedical protocols, metabolic control and quality of life. This evaluation consisted in a 6-month cross-over pilot study with ten Type I diabetic patients. The results of the evaluation allowed assessment of the telemedicine protocols in terms of the number of communications/patient (21.6+/-7.7); days between communications (5.4+/-2.66); messages sent by physicians (118 text messages); and data and messages transmitted by patients (3524 blood glucose readings, 1649 day-to-day insulin adjustments, 24 exercise reports, ten diet modifications and 63 text messages). Physicians performed more therapeutic changes during the DIABTel period than in the control period. There was a trend towards HbA1c improvement during DIABTel use with no incidence in the number of hypoglycaemias. This pilot study demonstrates the feasibility of the DIABTel system in clinical routine use and its potential benefits for diabetes care: improving the availability of information necessary for therapy adjustments; offering new physician-patient communication tools; increasing patient empowerment and education; and showing a positive trend towards improving the metabolic control of patients. Further studies are needed to validate these findings and to promote telemedicine as an opportunity to better diabetes care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy*
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Participation
  • Physician's Role
  • Pilot Projects
  • Telemedicine / instrumentation
  • Telemedicine / methods*