From the Journals

Protecting patients with diabetes from impact of COVID-19


Experts discuss how to best protect people with diabetes from serious COVID-19 outcomes in a newly published article that summarizes in-depth discussions on the topic from a conference held online last year.

Lead author and Diabetes Technology Society founder and director David C. Klonoff, MD, said in an interview: “To my knowledge this is the largest article or learning that has been written anywhere ever about the co-occurrence of COVID-19 and diabetes and how COVID-19 affects diabetes ... There are a lot of different dimensions.”

The 37-page report covers all sessions from the Virtual International COVID-19 and Diabetes Summit, held Aug. 26-27, 2020, which had 800 attendees from six continents, on topics including pathophysiology and COVID-19 risk factors, the impact of social determinants of health on diabetes and COVID-19, and psychological aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic for people with diabetes.

The freely available report was published online Jan. 21 in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology by Jennifer Y. Zhang of the Diabetes Technology Society, Burlingame, Calif., and colleagues.

Other topics include medications and vaccines, outpatient diabetes management during the COVID-19 pandemic and the growth of telehealth, inpatient management of diabetes in patients with or without COVID-19, ethical considerations, children, pregnancy, economics of care for COVID-19, government policy, regulation of tests and treatments, patient surveillance/privacy, and research gaps and opportunities.

“A comprehensive report like this is so important because it covers such a wide range of topics that are all relevant when it comes to protecting patients with diabetes during a pandemic. Our report aims to bring together all these different aspects of policy during the pandemic, patient physiology, and patient psychology, so I hope it will be widely read and widely appreciated,” Ms. Zhang said in an interview.

Two important clinical trends arising as a result of the pandemic – the advent of telehealth in diabetes management and the use of continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) in hospital – are expected to continue even after COVID-19 abates, said Dr. Klonoff, medical director of the Diabetes Research Institute at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, San Mateo, Calif.

Telehealth in diabetes here to stay, in U.S. at least

Dr. Klonoff noted that with diabetes telehealth, or “telediabetes” as it’s been dubbed, by using downloaded device data patients don’t have to travel, pay for parking, or take as much time off work. “There are advantages ... patients really like it,” he said.

And for health care providers, an advantage of remote visits is that the clinician can look at the patient while reviewing the patient’s data. “With telehealth for diabetes, the patient’s face and the software data are right next to each other on the same screen. Even as I’m typing I’m looking at the patient ... I consider that a huge advantage,” Dr. Klonoff said.

Rule changes early in the pandemic made the shift to telehealth in the United States possible, he said.

“Fortunately, Medicare and other payers are covering telehealth. It used to be there was no coverage, so that was a damper. Now that it’s covered I don’t think that’s going to go back. Everybody likes it,” he said.


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