As patients in correctional facilities have difficulty obtaining consultations with specialists, the use of telemedicine can help improve access to endocrinologists. A new study has found that these teleconsultations improved diabetes care for prisoners from 15 correctional facilities.
For the study, published in Telemedicine and e-Health, researchers at Syracuse, N.Y.-based SUNY Upstate Medical University’s division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism, conducted a retrospective chart review of prisoners from 15 correctional facilities who received tele-visits for diabetes from 2011 to 2014. SUNY Upstate Medical University provides telemedicine consultations with endocrinologists for prisoners through its diabetes center.
The researchers found through the chart review that prisoners with diabetes had improvements in glycemic, blood pressure and lipid control when their diabetes care included telemedicine consultations with specialists. Overall, the prisoners had elevated HbA1c levels and those with the highest levels (an HbA1c level above 9 percent) had the greatest gains with a drop of 1.3 percent. On follow up, 75 percent of prisoners showed improvement with blood pressure levels and 88 percent had improved LDL.
However, the study authors noted that follow-up visits were limited due to prisoner availability or visit cancellation by the prison facility.
“Given the high costs of transporting prisoners to healthcare facilities, telemedicine should be considered to help improve diabetes care for this vulnerable population,” the study authors wrote.