Tim is one of 7000-8000 Swedish youths with type 1 diabetes. He needs to keep constant watch over his insulin levels so they do not rise or fall below dangerous levels. By the help of virtual care he can now meet his doctor from school or at home, which significantly simplifies everyday life for Tim and his family.
When Tim, just about to turn 13, was with his family on a boating trip along the coast of Bohuslän his parents noticed he suddenly was very thirsty often and needed to go to the bathroom during the night.
They took him to the General Practitioner’s in Lysekil and was referred to the district hospital in Norra Älsborg. There Tim was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and was fitted with an insulin IV in order to lower his blood sugar levels. The following day he was moved to Halmstad Hospital for five days to learn about how to live with, and manage his diabetes before being discharged.
Tim’s pancreas did not produce a sufficient amount of insulin to balance his blood sugar levels which puts you at a high risk of complications with your heart and arteries. While patients with type 1 diabetes need to be treated with insulin for their entire lives, most live well with the right monitoring and treatment.
The children affected excel at learning how to manage their diabetes. Often their treatment consist of taking their own blood sample, test it, read their values and then add the right amount of insulin.
There are two types of insulin; one which is effective for a full day and one which is taken together with food. The insulin is injected with a special pen with a needle which is inserted in the belly. The diabetes nurse helps with teaching the best tricks.
Medical check-ups are important to continuously monitor the patient’s health. During Tim’s first year after being diagnosed he visited his doctor every 2-3 months to monitor his blood sugar levels, insulin levels, overall health and wellbeing and to learn how to manage his diabetes in correlation with e.g. sport.
For each checkup, Tim would have to leave school for the remainder of the day. Mom Jessica, who always joins Tim to learn how to best support him, needed to leave work for three hours for each visit. With a new initiative run by Hallands Sjukhus they no longer need to miss important time in school or at work!
Mom Jessica explains; “We were lucky to get in contact with diabetes doctor Peter Adolfsson who had started a study which augments patient treatment with virtual care. He wondered if we were interested to be a part of the study. My husband’s and my initial feeling was this could simplify our everyday life as well as save time for us. On top of this Tim would be able to stay longer with his friends in school. We said yes – and it was really great!”
The virtual care visit is done online with the help of a computer, tablet or mobile phone. This means the whole family can join from school, work, home or any other place when it is time for their check-up.
“We see and hear the doctor and he can see and hear us. We walk through Tim’s insulin dose and blood sugar levels which we have uploaded online and make a plan on how we can further improve his levels. It’s really great! We now have a better and more frequent contact with Peter at Hallands Sjukhus – from every 2-3 months to every 6th week and we are usually done within 20 minutes. This truly saves a lot of time compared to how it used to be” says Jessica. “I could even be a part of Tim’s check-up despite being on a business trip in the United States!”
“The technology is amazing” Jessica summarizes.
Tim agrees because he has his doctor in his pocket!
The trial of digital care meetings for diabetics is run by the county council in Halland region under the direction of physician Peter Adolfsson at Halland Hospital in Halmstad. The study includes about 80 patients and the idea is that it will increase accessibility and flexibility in care. More information: http://regionhalland.se
The technology is provided by Compodium International AB, enabling physicians and patients to securely log in from any device such as smartphone, tablet, computer or regular video conferencing system. The patient identifies himself with BankID (an swedish digital identification system) and the doctor uses SITHS. You can be at several places on the same meeting and share at documents such as journals and notes. Read more at www.compodium.com.