Background: Since the introduction of mobile phones, technology has been increasingly used to enable diabetes self-management education and support. This timely systematic review summarizes how currently available technology impacts outcomes for people living with diabetes.
Methods: A systematic review of high quality review articles and meta analyses focused on utilizing technology in diabetes self-management education and support services was conducted. Articles were included if published between January 2013 and January 2017.
Results: Twenty-five studies were included for analysis. The majority evaluated the use of mobile phones and secure messaging. Most studies described healthy eating, being active and metabolic monitoring as the predominant self-care behaviors evaluated. Eighteen of 25 reviews reported significant reduction in A1c as an outcome measure. Four key elements emerged as essential for improved A1c: (1) communication, (2) patient-generated health data, (3) education, and (4) feedback.
Conclusion: Technology-enabled diabetes self-management solutions significantly improve A1c. The most effective interventions incorporated all the components of a technology-enabled self-management feedback loop that connected people with diabetes and their health care team using 2-way communication, analyzed patient-generated health data, tailored education, and individualized feedback. The evidence from this systematic review indicates that organizations, policy makers and payers should consider integrating these solutions in the design of diabetes self-management education and support services for population health and value-based care models. With the widespread adoption of mobile phones, digital health solutions that incorporate evidence-based, behaviorally designed interventions can improve the reach and access to diabetes self-management education and ongoing support.
Keywords: diabetes; diabetes self-care; digital health; education; self-management; technology.