Between 6% and 9% of women who get pregnant develop gestational diabetes, a temporary condition that puts mother and baby at risk if left unchecked during pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a healthy diet and frequent checkups to monitor blood sugar levels, but that can be a challenge for women who live in rural areas, where in-person visits with a clinician require a long drive and time away from work and family.
Avera Health in Sioux Falls, S.D., devised a way to give its largely rural patient population proper and timely care, at their convenience. The telemedicine program called Avera eCARE® allows patients to manage their gestational diabetes using an AveraNow app and a cloud-based remote glucose monitor. The smart phone app lets women talk in real time to a physician via video conferencing and gathers data physicians can access to track the patient’s condition. It is one of many innovations at Avera Health that have improved the health and care of patients in the 86 counties it serves in the Upper Midwest – and earned it Level 10 certification and Most Wired’s Superior Performance
“Avera eCARE has been very successful and we’ve had some very good clinical outcomes associated with it,” says Avera Medical Information Officer Jennifer M. McKay, MD. “One of my favorite metrics is it saved our patients almost 60,000 miles in driving and about 234 days of work.”
Avera eCARE is currently in 30 states, having reached 1.5 million patients at 420 sites and saving $200 million. “We’ve taken this well outside of our footprint,” said Avera Health President and CEO Bob Sutton. “We’ve documented that we have saved thousands of lives with this platform.”
Avera Chief Information Officer Jim Veline credits culture and talent for their achievements. “Cutting-edge, latest technology with well-educated, well-trained and astute physicians is a combination that is very tough to beat,” he said, “and has great patient outcomes.”