Using information communication technology to better support clients with diabetes

Miss Carrie Wong1

1Each, Melbourne, Australia

Aim: To investigate the potential for use of Information Communication Technology methods to support clients with diabetes.

Methods

Client and staff questionnaires were developed to explore current and future ICT use for diabetes management. The staff questionnaire was distributed to all relevant staff (n=14) and completed surveys were returned via internal mail (n=12), whilst client questionnaires were completed using face-to-face interviews (n=22). The data was analysed using thematic analysis to explore ICT usage and identify potential ICT sources for implementation within the service.

Results

Staff (100%) and clients (86%) identified ICT as useful in diabetes management. Clients reported wanting more information and support outside of appointments to include: food choices and nutrition (65%), managing blood glucose levels (29%), and managing insulin levels (21%). In addition, a quarter of clients wanted regular contact from clinicians outside of appointments to support their management of diabetes. Barriers reported by clients to ICT use that could be overcome by support from staff were a lack of: familiarity or confidence with ICT use, awareness of availability of ICT for diabetes management, and awareness of where to find credible information.  The top 5 ICT methods that clients expressed interest in were: websites (67% responses), email correspondence with health professionals (83%), apps for monitoring blood sugar (27%), apps for monitoring diet (26%), and apps for monitoring weight (26%). Almost half (45%) clients identified ICT as being most beneficial ‘between appointments/as needed’ within their client journey.

Significance of the findings to allied health

There is significant potential for ICT to be used to provide much needed support to clients in chronic disease management, in particular when scheduled services are not normally available.