Practical Telemedicine for Veterans with Persistently Poor Diabetes Control: A Randomized Pilot Trial

Telemed J E Health. 2016 May;22(5):376-84. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2015.0145. Epub 2015 Nov 5.


Background: Telemedicine-based diabetes management improves outcomes versus clinic care but is seldom implemented by healthcare systems. In order to advance telemedicine-based management as a practical option for veterans with persistent poorly controlled diabetes mellitus (PPDM) despite clinic-based care, we evaluated a comprehensive telemedicine intervention that we specifically designed for delivery using existing Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinical staffing and equipment.

Materials and methods: We conducted a 6-month randomized trial among 50 veterans with PPDM; all maintained hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels continuously >9.0% for >1 year despite clinic-based management. Participants received usual care or a telemedicine intervention combining telemonitoring, medication management, self-management support, and depression management; existing VHA clinical staff delivered the intervention. Using linear mixed models, we examined HbA1c, diabetes self-care (measured by the Self-Care Inventory-Revised questionnaire), depression, and blood pressure.

Results: At baseline, the model-estimated common HbA1c intercept was 10.5%. By 6 months, estimated HbA1c had improved by 1.3% for intervention participants and 0.3% for usual care (estimated difference, -1.0%, 95% confidence interval [CI], -2.0%, 0.0%; p = 0.050). Intervention participants' diabetes self-care (estimated difference, 7.0; 95% CI, 0.1, 14.0; p = 0.047), systolic blood pressure (-7.7 mm Hg; 95% CI, -14.8, -0.6; p = 0.035), and diastolic blood pressure (-5.6 mm Hg; 95% CI, -9.9, -1.2; p = 0.013) were improved versus usual care by 6 months. Depressive symptoms were similar between groups.

Conclusions: A comprehensive telemedicine intervention improved outcomes among veterans with PPDM despite clinic-based care. Because we specifically designed this intervention with scalability in mind, it may represent a practical, real-world strategy to reduce the burden of poor diabetes control among veterans.

Trial registration: NCT01778751.

Keywords: e-health; home health monitoring; telehealth; telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Blood Pressure
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Disease Management*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Therapy Management / organization & administration
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Bundles / methods
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Veterans*


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A

Associated data