In the United States, 37.3 million people (about 1 in 10) have diabetes. Rural populations have higher rates of diabetes and lower rates of participation in diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) services compared to residents of urban areas.
DSMES services help people manage their diabetes by eating healthy food, being active, checking their blood sugar, taking medicines, and handling stress. DSMES improves health and reduces diabetes complications and can be cost-effective or cost-saving for employers, insurers, and the US health care system. However, 62% of rural counties have limited access to DSMES services.
Telehealth is an effective way to bridge this gap:
- Telehealth can reach more participants than traditional in-person programs.
- Telehealth technologies are less restricted by distance and time barriers, creating greater accessibility for rural and underserved populations.
- Many service providers offer DSMES services via telehealth.
- Many potential participants have access to the internet or devices needed to use telehealth.
CDC created this guide to support organizations interested in offering DSMES via telehealth. The guide provides practical steps for getting started with telehealth and lists specific considerations for each telehealth technology.
The CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is a public-private partnership working to build a nationwide system to deliver an affordable, evidence-based lifestyle change program to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Programs can be delivered in person or online, and online programs allow more access and flexibility. Currently, 159 organizations deliver the lifestyle change program online.
The guide also supports organizations interested in delivering the lifestyle change program via telehealth. The guide provides practical steps for getting started with telehealth and lists specific considerations for each telehealth technology.
To help develop best practices, CDC evaluated organizations’ use of telehealth for delivering the lifestyle change program. These briefs describe program structure, technologies used, and implementation steps along with lessons learned: