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Debate will weigh use of telehealth technology for behavioral and psychological diabetes care


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3 minutes

In the decade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the diabetes research and care communities had been slowly experimenting with and adopting the use of telehealth technology in the provision of psychosocial and behavioral diabetes care; however, the onset of the pandemic forced health care providers to quickly pivot to telehealth in the delivery of care.

Jennifer Raymond, MD, MCR
Jennifer Raymond, MD, MCR

With the return to in-person care, many providers continue to use telehealth applications for the psychological care of their patients, including pediatric patients, raising questions as to how, when, and for whom it should be used.

Two pediatric diabetes experts will debate the topic What’s the Verdict on Telehealth for Behavioral and Psychological Diabetes Care? The debate will be held on Sunday, June 25, at 3:15 p.m. PT in Room 30 of the San Diego Convention Center. It also will be available via livestream for registered meeting participants.

Jennifer Raymond, MD, MCR, Chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism and Chair of the Virtual Care Committee at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of South California Keck School of Medicine, will make the case that telehealth increases access to health care and achieves at least equivalent outcomes to in-person care.

“There is data pre-COVID, during COVID, as well as more recent data, showing that telehealth can increase the number of successfully completed appointments, which is an important metric,” Dr. Raymond said. “There are so many barriers in our current model of care, particularly for historically underserved populations, and telehealth provides a way to increase our reach, meet our patients where they are, and keep them engaged in their care. It is also critical to acknowledge that without intentionality in addressing disparities in care, telehealth can actually increase the gap and perpetuate inequities.”

Michael A. Harris, PhD
Michael A. Harris, PhD

Michael A. Harris, PhD, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of Pediatric Psychology, and Director of Novel Interventions in Children’s Healthcare at Oregon Health & Science University, will present the argument that more research is needed to address knowledge gaps in telehealth models for psychosocial diabetes care before it should be widely adopted as standard of care.

While he agrees that telehealth can play a role in overcoming certain barriers to access, Dr. Harris said it can also create new ones.

“It is a bit of an illusion that videoconferencing levels the playing field in providing access and care to underserved and underrepresented populations. There continues to be a huge technology access divide between those with resources and those without,” he said. “There is definitely a place for videoconferencing in the provision of psychosocial and behavioral diabetes care; however, it is not the panacea that everyone thought in terms of giving those most in need access. More scientific examination needs to occur so that we can more fully understand the effectiveness of videoconferencing for psychosocial and behavioral diabetes care.”