Published: Dec 18, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 18, 2012 06:40 PM
The crisp, cool air reminds us that the holidays are here. Thanksgiving began a time of celebration, as many of us came together with friends and family. November also marked a different kind of anniversary, National Diabetes Awareness Month, but brought to the table a much more gloomy tone.
A recently released report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention paints a less than festive picture for our country. In the last 15 years, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has skyrocketed. Nearly 26 million Americans suffer from diabetes and another 79 million are on the brink of developing it.
These statistics are distressing. Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing serious medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and other debilitating conditions such as blindness and amputations. While a diagnosis of diabetes is in no way a death sentence, it is a life-long chronic disease that requires daily management, lifestyle change, and continual medical support.
So what are we to do?
We must come together as a community to encourage healthy living, and press for creative and novel solutions to this national epidemic. In such a technologically savvy culture, there has never been a better time for introducing innovative technologies to help those living with diabetes.
Many hospitals and health practices around the national are transitioning to a complete electronic medical record (EMR) system. These have been shown to offer patients (and health care staff) countless benefits in streamlining care, increasing efficiency and communication, reducing medical errors, and lowering costs. Many hospitals even have the technology to allow their patients to interact with their own medical file. Such systems have the capability to dramatically enhance the way diabetics manage their disease.
Imagine being able to schedule appointments with a diabetes educator online. Or look at a recent HbA1c test results through a smartphone. Or perhaps even upload insulin usage and blood glucose results directly to your file for the doctor to see. Imagine being able to send a nurse a question over secure online messaging rather than playing phone-tag.
EMR systems have the potential to be of tremendous help to diabetic patients as they faithfully manage their disease. Most importantly, this type of health technology can dramatically enhance the quality of life experienced by diabetics, as well as address the soaring trend in national diabetes rates.
The holidays remind us that we all have many things to be grateful for. However this time of year also reminds us of the impact diabetes has had on our country, and the need for addressing it as an epidemic with innovative solutions.