CHICAGO – The University of Illinois at Chicago will use a recent $4 million federal grant to explore whether mobile health care technology can help African American and Hispanic patients adhere to their diabetes treatment plans.
“These populations are disproportionately impacted by Type 2 diabetes,” said Lisa Sharp, UIC researcher and associate professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy. “Their clinical outcomes are worse, as well.”
The grant, from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, will evaluate whether mobile technology like text messaging and videoconferencing can help patients improve their medication adherence, eat healthier and become more physically active.
Sharp said that many African American and Hispanic diabetes patients are at high risk for complications from the disease like amputations, end-stage kidney disease and severe retinopathy because they do not properly manage their health.
“The current health care system requires more and more of the patient, and many of the people in our study tend to be lower income with less education,” Sharp said. “They’re just trying to get through the day and they don’t understand the long-term consequences of diabetes.”
Text messages will remind patients to take their medications and provide support and encouragement. Health coaches will use tablet computers to videoconference with clinical pharmacists from the patients’ homes.
The team is also looking at using activity trackers to collect data on patients’ habits and give them feedback about how they might help themselves through exercise.
Sharp said the goal of the study is to understand more about the needs of patients so they can more easily manage their disease.
“We want them to feel connected and technology can be extremely helpful with that,” Sharp said.