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  • Writer's pictureMarisa Ryman

Are Patients Struggling to ‘Connect’ With the Diabetes Devices of Today?



In recent years, there has been a surge in innovations in diabetes technology aimed at empowering patients to better manage their condition. From wearable continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) to advanced data-sharing portals, these tools hold immense promise. However, alongside these advancements come many challenges that can bury the value of these great innovations and hinder patient care. 


In this blog post, Marisa Ryman, Patient Engagement Manager at SweetSpot, provides valuable insights into the struggles patients face when connecting with diabetes devices today. 


Technical hurdles are impacting a large portion of patients with diabetes 


While advancements in diabetes technology are crucial, it's important to remember that the growing population of older adults, who may face unique challenges with this technology, also represents a significant portion of diabetes patients today. I've seen first-hand how unfamiliarity with smartphones or app navigation are causing patients to struggle when it comes to sharing critical diabetes data with their providers and loved ones.  


“Simple tasks like connecting their device to an app via Bluetooth can be daunting for patients, and busy doctors’ offices often lack the time, resources, or know-how to walk them through the steps to get their devices set up appropriately for remote data sharing."  


Confusing instructions add another layer of frustration 

 

Additionally, working with patients of all ages, I’ve found that instructions for pairing CGMs and insulin devices with data-sharing portals can trip up even the most tech-savvy people.  


Seemingly minor details, such as whether a patient needs to sign into a device using their username versus email (especially when these are often the same), versus phone number , can disrupt the entire process. Dexcom patients, for example, need to use two different apps to enable remote data sharing – and often I see that patients are using different login information for each app and the apps aren’t talking to each other. 


Similarly, when upgrading to a newer CGM device, oftentimes instructions aren’t clear about whether users must input the same login information. Many patients end up creating a new account, leading to data synchronization issues as they appear as multiple patients in the system.  


These nuances can significantly impede patient engagement with devices and subsequently their care. 


Relying on busy healthcare professionals isn’t practical 


I’ve also learned that patients often rely on healthcare providers for assistance, but scheduled clinic visits do not always provide enough time to troubleshoot even simple device issues. In many ways, it is a problem that cycles – doctors don’t have the time or resources to troubleshoot device issues during the patient visit because they need to focus on treatment, but they can’t focus on treatment because they don’t have the data that they need to make treatment decisions!  


"Patients are often relying on their doctors to help them in the office, which isn't always practical. This is especially true if the office itself is having trouble troubleshooting." 

 

How SweetSpot helps patients and practices navigate these challenges: 


To address these challenges, SweetSpot employs a comprehensive approach aimed at ensuring both patients and healthcare practices are set up for success.  


1. Proactive data monitoring 

 

Our data dashboard allows our team to easily identify situations where data isn't uploading to the cloud, even if everything seems paired up on the surface. We've been able to remedy situations in which patients want to participate in remote monitoring but are struggling to connect their devices for sharing. In some scenarios, this can lead to serious delays in care. For example, it is not uncommon to come across patients who were recently prescribed a device, only for their provider to find out months later that they never were able to set it up. Our proactive approach allows us to identify these patients before such delays in care can occur and ensure the issue is remedied.  

  

Another major pain point for doctors today is the lengthy and complicated prior authorization process for new devices, in which doctors are required to submit a ‘prescription’ to insurance companies for coverage of a new CGM. Complicated prior authorizations can lead to delays in care and this can be a black box to providers, who believe the patients will receive the device once it was ordered for them and will benefit from the additional therapy, only to find out months later they never have. At SweetSpot, we break open the prior authorization black box by reaching out to patients and promptly notifying their doctor if there are any issues with the procurement of the device.  

  

2. Expert troubleshooting  


Furthermore, we have a dedicated team of experts, like me, in device troubleshooting, offering personalized support to patients navigating technical hurdles. We go the extra mile to support patients. Here’s how: 

 

Direct communication 

 

In addition to calling patients to work through data uploading issues, if an escalation is necessary, I also facilitate three-way calls between patients and device manufactures to ensure clear communication and land at a resolution. I find that going at it alone, patients might not even know what the issue is, making it difficult for them to articulate the problem to the device manufacturer. We help patients articulate the device issue and are there for support. 

 

Success stories abound  

 

One recent success story that stands out to me is that my team helped an 88-year-old woman who was struggling to download the appropriate apps for her device to enable data-sharing. Once the data came through, our clinical support team identified a critical issue regarding her glycemic health and intervened. We were able to restore her glycemic health and bring her glucose levels into a safe zone again. 

 

3. Empowering practices 


We take great effort to empower practices and their staff to assist their patients in troubleshooting by educating them on helpful tips and providing easy-to-follow device troubleshooting booklets for each patient room. 


“We are always here to support your practice and patients, but we also want to help your office in supporting patients with data-sharing, if that aligns with your preferences.” 


Ultimately, our goal is to ensure patients can seamlessly share data with their practices, enabling both their doctors and our team to access their information on the SweetSpot platform and intervene with clinical care as necessary. 


While diabetes devices offer remarkable benefits, they also pose significant challenges. Through proactive support and patient advocacy, SweetSpot endeavors to overcome these obstacles, striving for excellence in diabetes management. With our team's unwavering dedication, patients can navigate the complexities of modern diabetes technology with confidence and peace of mind. 

 

Want to learn more about SweetSpot and how we are revolutionizing diabetes management? Check out our website or shoot us a message at info@sweetspot.health.  


 

SweetSpot is a remote diabetes management platform that integrates with multiple CGM and insulin delivery devices, like Dexcom, FreeStyle Libre, Tandem, Medtronic, and more, to provide physicians with a single view of their patients’ data. SweetSpot's intelligent algorithm identifies the most optimal CPT codes for both remote and in-person diabetes management, and a dedicated team of Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialists are available to provide ongoing support.  


As a company founded and powered by physicians and diabetes care providers, we place a strong emphasis on ensuring that there are no obstacles to getting started with SweetSpot. That’s why SweetSpot is easy to set up and designed to seamlessly integrate into your existing workflows and comes with no setup costs or subscription fees. 

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