Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Dr. Kris Iyer
Txt Doc 4 Gr8 Results
In the old days, doctors made house calls. Today, if a patient needs me,
I'm just a phone call, text message or email away.
Each year,Hoag's Mary and Dick Allen Diabetes Center manages more
than 1,000 new patients with diabetes, and every one of them is given
a personal email address of their diabetes educator.Type 1 diabetes? requires
insulin to treat – and insulin, when not used with care and respect
– can be one of the most dangerous drugs. No other drug has the
power to lower blood sugar, potentially leading to hypoglycemia, seizures
and in 7% of people with Type 1 diabetes, even death.
So if a patient has a question, I want to make sure I am available to
I'm not alone in answering patients' emails. Doctors in a variety
of specialties are fielding patients' texted, Tweeted and emailed
questions. We still see patients in our offices, of course, but busy patients
find that not every issue is worth a visit.
Although we have gone to great lengths to ensure that our communication
is private and secure, some older patients are not as eager as younger
ones to thumb-type their questions.
Those who have ventured into this new cyber doctor-patient relationship
find it's more convenient and efficient. And in Type 1 diabetes, those
qualities can make a difference. I have Type 1 diabetes myself, and I
test my blood glucose 8-10 times a day, so I know how important it is
to maintain careful monitoring.
Vigilant monitoring is particularly important in pregnancy, and the 450
pregnant women with diabetes we manage are probably our most email-friendly group.
As much as we are constantly checking our phones, even doctors are known
to sleep or go to the movies every once in a while, so if a matter is
an emergency, we always tell patients to dial 911.
But for non-urgent matters, I encourage more doctors and patients to take
advantage of the incredible advances in technology. Recently, a woman
traveling overseas lost her insulin pump and was able to secure an order
for a replacement via email.
Even more impressively, smart phones are becoming medical tools themselves.
A flash drive-like device is available for the iPhone and iPad that analyzes
patients' blood sugar levels and sends those analyses immediately
to our offices.
Patients are now able to access their medical records remotely –
and insert questions for their doctors into those records. Digital insulin
pumps will soon transmit information directly to health care providers,
and our diabetes center website and social media platforms allow patients
to communicate directly with each other to ask questions and share their
experience and have instant access to information and resources.
With communication technology changing so rapidly, it might not be long
before even doctor-patient emails and text messages will seem as antiquated
and analogue as an old-time house call.
View this article at OC Register.