Specialist Perspectives on Delivering High-Quality Telemedicine for Diabetes: A Mixed Methods Survey Study

J Endocr Soc. 2023 Mar 20;7(5):bvad039. doi: 10.1210/jendso/bvad039. eCollection 2023 Mar 6.


Background: Recent recommendations guiding appropriate use of telemedicine for endocrinology care have largely relied on expert opinion due to limited evidence on factors that increase quality of telemedicine care. In this study, we assessed the perspectives of front-line specialists on factors and strategies perceived to increase quality of diabetes care delivered via telemedicine after more than 2 years of widespread use.

Methods: Adult diabetes specialists in 2 academic health systems who recently used video-based telemedicine to provide diabetes care were invited to participate in an online survey study between March and April 2022. Likert-style questions, followed by related open-ended questions, assessed perspectives on availability of key resources, factors affecting quality, and anticipated benefits from telemedicine for diabetes.

Results: Response rate was 52% (56/111). More than half (54%) of participants reported better overall quality of diabetes care with face-to-face care vs telemedicine. Participants reported clinical data supporting high-quality care, such as home blood glucose readings and vital signs, were often not available with telemedicine. Patient factors, including comorbidities and communication barriers, reduced anticipated benefit from telemedicine, while geographic and mobility barriers increased expected benefit. Providers described multiple health care setting resources that could promote high-quality telemedicine diabetes care, including greater support for sharing patient-generated health data and coordinating multidisciplinary care.

Conclusions: After 2 years of sustained use, diabetes specialists identified telemedicine as an important way to enhance access to care. However, specialists identified additional supports needed to increase appropriate use and delivery of high-quality telemedicine care for patients with complex clinical needs.

Keywords: diabetes; specialty care; telemedicine.