Preparing for a tech-up with digital diabetes devices and management

5 min read
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Don’t let the process of adopting a digital health tool deter you from taking a meaningful step forward in your patients’ care. You can break down the tech-up process into 5 key phases:1

Needs assessment
Tool identification
Integration with your existing system
Education and implementation
At each step, consider how the digital tool could help facilitate and enhance your patients’ diabetes management.
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Assess your needs

If you’re considering a move to digital health, you may already know that increased digital capabilities might help your patients. Itemize and quantify the challenges that you hear about from your patients and staff. Prioritize specific issues you’d like to tackle.

If you’re not hearing about unmet needs, it’s still possible that they exist. Consider opening new channels of communication between yourself and your stakeholders to encourage candid feedback.

During this phase, set specific, measurable goals for the challenges you’d like to take on and the changes you’d like to implement. Establish a procedure to get feedback from patients and staff that can later help you evaluate the implementation.

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You don’t have to start from scratch

Use your existing resources to help you get started with digital health. Take a look at what systems you already have in place and identify gaps that vendors’ support and training resources could fill.

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Match the tool to the task

We recommend taking an evidence-based approach to determining the appropriate digital health tools for your practice. The Expert Insights articles on this site can help you start your research on how certain tools can help with specific challenges.

When you have a specific tech tool in mind, gather information about how the tool is used in the real world: 

  • Connect with your peers in health care and ask how they’ve used the tool to address similar challenges
  • Request a demonstration from manufacturers’ reps and ask what kind of support they offer to help your patients make the most of their product
  • Talk with insurance payers. Which of the insurances you accept will cover this digital technology?
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Determine how the tech will fit with your practice

Integrating a digital health technology involves aligning the new tool with your existing systems. Ideally, the digital tool will allow you to build on your current capabilities. As we mentioned above, you probably don’t need to start from scratch.

Think about how the digital health tool can integrate with your practice in the following areas:

  • Patient access. Will your patients (low-income and vulnerable patients in particular) have the necessary resources and opportunity to use and benefit from this tool? 
  • Technical requirements and existing workflow. Do you have the essential hardware, software, EHR integration, and staff to support patients using the tool?
  • Data security and privacy. Will the tool be compliant with patient privacy standards?
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Start small

You don’t have to adopt every digital technology at once. Begin with a manageable digital integration (eg, a digital communications platform) and help your patients build their basic digital skills before moving on to something more complex (eg, remote monitoring of patient self-management).

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Train your staff and patients

To help your patients get the full benefits from digital health tools, you’ll need to help your staff and patients understand them. Having a consistent training procedure with hands-on demonstrations can help. You can recruit a staff member to be your technology liaison to patients, or you can refer your patients to a certified diabetes educator.2

Lean on the digital vendor for training
Most technology vendors provide support programs to help patients get started with their product. This may be as simple as a how-to guide. More robust education programs help patients understand the relationship between the digital tool, their behavior, and their diabetes self-management.

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Evaluate how the tool is working

Once the digital health tool is up and running, follow the procedure you established to get feedback and measure progress toward your goals. Digital health is constantly evolving, so be willing to adapt and optimize your process to maximize the benefits for patients and address any shortcomings.

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  1. Espinoza JC, Chin SW, Shah P, Tut M and Raymond JK (2022). Proposing a Practical, Simplified Framework for Implementing Integrated Diabetes Data and Technology Solutions. Front. Clin. Diabetes Healthc. 3:867284. doi: 10.3389/fcdhc.2022.867284
  2. Greenwood DA, Howell F, Scher L, Yousef G, Rinker J, Yehl K, Isaacs D, Peeples MM. A Framework for Optimizing Technology-Enabled Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Care and Education: The Role of the Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. Diabetes Educ. 2020 Aug;46(4):315-322. doi: 10.1177/0145721720935125

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Diabetes Tech-upTM is sponsored by Novo Nordisk, a global leader in diabetes. We believe that adoption of innovative technologies can help appropriate patients better manage diabetes. Our goal is to provide information to help health care professionals on the front line of diabetes care strengthen their understanding of diabetes technologies and implement them where they can have the greatest impact.


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