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Facebook, Skype May Improve Diabetes Control for T1DM Patients on Pump Therapy

Patient interaction with doctors via social media found as effective as regular visits…

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As the number of diabetic patients increases, the amount of time clinicians can spend per patient seems to decrease. Using new technology and the internet allows patients to interact with a community with similar problems and therefore share, meet, and provide as well as receive feedback. Facebook opened a group called "Diabetes Macedonia" in 2008 which allows members to share their experiences and information. In 2014, the group developed a structural platform allowing healthcare providers to oversee information posted by members.

Researchers from the University Clinic of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders, Medical Faculty, Skopje, Macedonia evaluated whether type 1 diabetes patients using insulin pumps with glucose sensors could improve their control using social media. Subjects were split into groups: regular and insulin group.
A total of 56 children and adolescents were randomized with the regular group treated with standard medical protocol. The data was uploaded and consultations, such as pump settings, basal bolus insulin, and education, were given by healthcare professionals. The internet group was treated using CareLink software (Medtronic Diabetes). Consultations were given via Facebook chats and Skype.

The results showed an improved in A1C over 12 months period by both groups (regular group: 7.7 +/- 1.6% [61 +/- 17.5 mmol/mol] at baseline vs. 6.6 +/- 1.5% [49 +/- 16.4 mmol/mol] at 12 months; Internet group: 7.8 +/- 1.9% [62 +/- 20.8 mmol/mol] at baseline vs. 6.4 +/- 1.6% [46 +/- 17.5 mmol/mol] at 12 months, P < 0.05 at 12 months). Internet visits were performed with Facebook (54%), Skype (12%), and both Facebook and Skype (34%). Improvement can be seen in the first 6 months and maintained for 6 months. At 12 months, there were no differences in acute complications such diabetic (ketoacidosis and severe hypoglycemia), weight change, and daily dose of insulin.

Decision making was guided by healthcare professionals and every visit was personalized with patient needs. With the increase in patients and visits, and decrease in time spent with each patient, this study showed that social media can also improve diabetes control just as well as regular visits. Social media allows diabetic patients to share and receive information as well as cope with the disease.

Practice Pearls:

  • Social media can also improve diabetes control just as well as regular visits.
  • Social media allows diabetic patients to share and receive information as well as cope with the disease.
  • Patients prefer to communicate with the healthcare professionals using social media.

Goran Petrovski, Marija Zivkovic, and Slavica Subeska Stratrova. "Social Media and Diabetes: Can Facebook and Skype Improve Glucose Control in Patients With Type 1 Diabetes on Pump Therapy? One-Year Experience."Diabetes Care 2015;38:e51-e52.