HHS, AT&T partner on mobile diabetes self-management program

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health, the American Association of Diabetes Educators and AT&T on Monday announced an initiative to evaluate the use of mobile devices to deliver diabetes self-management training within an underserved minority community in Dallas.

"The Office of Minority Health is excited to collaborate on a consumer-focused health information technology initiative that will have the opportunity to significantly improve access to education on diabetes," Office for Minority Health deputy assistant secretary Garth Graham said.

AT&T will contribute $100,000 to the AADE to fund the study and provide approximately 150 smartphones with voice and data plans for the patients, diabetes educators and other education personnel. The diabetes educators will deliver DSMT to patients using a video application on the mobile devices.

"People of color are at higher risk for diabetes, and we're pleased to be part of this unique effort to help diabetes educators effectively use mHealth to aid those who need the most help managing their disease," commented Xavier Williams, SVP public sector and healthcare at AT&T. "With proactive management of chronic diseases like diabetes, it could potentially help to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs."

The AADE is in negotiations with the Dallas-based Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute, an accredited DSMT program and an affiliate of Baylor Health Care System and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, to recruit participants for the study. Once complete, the AADE also will evaluate the project, with support from the Office of Minority Health.
 
"Telehealth and mHealth have the potential to greatly increase access to health services such as DSMT, which has been proven to reduce complications associated with diabetes," AADE CEO Lana Vukovljak said. "This project is critical to evaluating mHealth and demonstrating whether it results in positive health outcomes comparable to face-to-face interactions. If so, it can be a solution to the challenge of providing diabetes education and meeting the needs of people in underserved populations with diabetes."

DSMT is a collaborative process through which people with or at risk for diabetes gain the knowledge and skills needed to modify behavior and successfully self-manage the disease and its related chronic conditions. The initiative is intended to measure the effectiveness of evidence-based DSMT interventions delivered to participants by diabetes educators using mobile health (mHealth) programming.
 
DSMT must be prescribed by a Medicare beneficiary's healthcare provider in order to be eligible for Medicare reimbursement.