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Patients prefer to meet doctors in person than consult over telephone: DMDSC, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation research

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The study also found that despite lockdown, control of diabetes amongst patients actually increased during past months

A recent study by the research team at Madras Diabetes Research Foundation and Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre found that patients preferred to meet their doctors in person than consult them over telephone. The research was conducted to assess the effects of the lockdown on the adoption of new technologies and changes in diabetes in type 2 diabetes patients. Researchers spoke to patients from Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre (DMDSC). The study also found that despite the lockdown, the control of diabetes amongst patients actually increased during the past months.

The COVID-19 lockdown and associated restrictions have created a need for consultation of patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes through telemedicine facilities. During the lockdown, telemedicine facilities at Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre were significantly ramped up to improve access to healthcare, quality of care, and clinical / psychosocial outcomes in people with diabetes. Researchers conducted a cross sectional, observational study via telephone interview to gauge the acceptance of the new technology and the overall diabetic health of patents during the lockdown. The research sample comprised a random list of 3,000 type 2 diabetic subjects who represents 10 per cent of the 30,748 patients who had visited Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre in the past year.

The study showed that while patients sought out medical consultation during the lockdown period, only a marginal number of patients preferred to consult their doctors through the telemedicine route; though effective, the overall acceptance of telemedicine facilities remains suboptimal among patients. The study also found that despite all the hardships, the increased attention to health during the lockdown had actually improved the control of diabetes. Patients reported an increase in self-monitoring of blood glucose and improvement in glycemic control. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have not adversely affected metabolic control in diabetic patients.

Commenting on the findings, Dr V Mohan, Chairman and Chief Diabetologist, Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre said, “The doctor-patient relationship in India is a trusted bond and patients tend to feel safer and comforted when they meet doctors in-person. Besides, many patients here will opt to visit the same doctor for an ailment like diabetes and in many cases this is a lifelong relationship”.

Dr RM Anjana, Managing Director, DMDSC added,“Doctors too are familiar with the habits and case history of all their regular patients – a crucial factor in ensuring the patient’s well-being. But in emergencies like these, greater accessibility and acceptance of technology could help patients maintain better contact with their physicians. This is important for both doctor and patient safety.”

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