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CGM Simplicity Can Be Complex Information for Beginners

Feb 5, 2019

Author: Joy Pape, MSN, FNP-C, CDE, WOCN, CFCN, FAADE

Woman, 55 years of age visited with me 3 weeks ago. Her glucose levels were in the 200-250 mg/dL range. She was actually a new patient of ours; her A1C was 9.2%. We recommended a CGM. She purchased one and brought it to the office for me to teach her how to use it. I did so. This patient is well-educated and seemed tech-savvy. When she left the visit, she “seemed” to understand CGM, what it is, what to do, and how to insert the sensor, get readings, interpret readings, etc.

She returned today. Her glucose average is now 128 mg/dL. She is pleased with the numbers as are we. She is feeling better. She said to me: “My friend helped me with the insertion. It was very hard to insert.” This surprised me at first. I remembered she lives alone so I was careful to have her do the set up and insertion herself when she visited 3 weeks ago. But then I also reminded myself that for people new to this technology, no matter how educated or tech savvy they may be, there is a lot to learn and remember.


I asked her what she learned by wearing CGM. She told me she did learn what foods affect her glucose and how, and thus far has avoided or cut back those that raise her glucose. I congratulated her on the changes she made. I was hoping she would stick with the CGM since it was a helpful little teacher for her.

I then went to the CGM’s website and showed her the video she can always go to for support and education. We even watched the video together so I could point out where she had told me she had some problem and show her how to do it right, which, by the way, I know I did tell her at our last appointment. It was just a reminder to me that what may seem simple to me is not always that simple for our patients.

I am hoping she’ll now stick with it and we’ll avoid the disaster of her going back to her “old” ways.

Lessons Learned:

  • Most medical information is new to our patients. Whether it be a new tool, app, medication, meal plan, or whatever, most can’t remember everything we teach in one sitting.
  • Most new tools, apps, and medications do come with user guides or information on how to get support. Many patients don’t read the guides or information.
  • Give patients simple guides on how to set up and/or use/take medications and the toll free numbers to contact if they should need it. And make sure they know how to contact you for questions.
  • For the two most commonly used CGMs at this time, here’s what I will give them even though they have been given this in their user guides and instruction information. One line of the website is a lot easier to remember than digging through their material to find it.
  • If the patient does not have access to the Internet, show them the quick and easy short guide that comes with their product.
  • We as health care providers should watch these guides and be familiar with them ourselves. It only helps us be better teachers.

Joy Pape, FNP-CDE
Medical Editor, DiabetesInControl

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