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Open Access Research article

The use of telehealth for diabetes management: a qualitative study of telehealth provider perceptions

Faith P Hopp12*, Mary M Hogan1, Peter A Woodbridge345 and Julie C Lowery16

Author Affiliations

1 VA HSR&D Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Research, VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

2 School of Social Work, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA

3 VA HSR&D Center on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice, Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, Indianapolis, IN, USA

4 Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

5 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA

6 University of Michigan School of Public Health, Department of Health Management and Policy, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

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Implementation Science 2007, 2:14  doi:10.1186/1748-5908-2-14

Published: 2 May 2007

Abstract

Background

Monitoring and Messaging Devices (MMDs) are telehealth systems used by patients in their homes, and are designed to promote patient self-management, patient education, and clinical monitoring and follow-up activities. Although these systems have been widely promoted by health care systems, including the Veterans Health Administration, very little information is available on factors that facilitate use of the MMD system, or on barriers to use.

Methods

We conducted in-depth qualitative interviews with clinicians using MMD-based telehealth programs at two Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in the Midwestern United States.

Results

Findings suggest that MMD program enrollment is limited by both clinical and non-clinical factors, and that patients have varying levels of program participation and system use. Telehealth providers see MMDs as a useful tool for monitoring patients who are interested in working on management of their disease, but are concerned with technical challenges and the time commitment required to use MMDs.

Conclusion

Telehealth includes a rapidly evolving and potentially promising range of technologies for meeting the growing number of patients and clinicians who face the challenges of diabetes care, and future research should explore the most effective means of ensuring successful program implementation.