Is it the technology, or the human touch? It’s only one study, but the sample size is substantial–450 patients–as was the length of time, one year. This randomized group in the Monitor Trial study published earlier this month in JAMA Internal Medicine came from 15 primary care practices in central North Carolina. All were over 30, were Type 2 diabetics who did not use insulin for control, and had glycemic control (hemoglobin A1c) levels higher than 6.5% but lower than 9.5%, which placed them higher than normal but within excellent to fair control (Endocrineweb.com). The 450 patients were divided into three groups: one with no self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) but were monitored at their doctor’s office, another monitored themselves once daily, and once-daily SMBG with enhanced patient feedback including automatic tailored messages delivered via the Telcare meter (acquired by BioTelemetry in December ’16).
There were no statistically significant differences among the group either in the A1C or another measurement, health-related quality of life and “no notable differences in key adverse events including hypoglycemia frequency, health care utilization, or insulin initiation.”
It seems that in this relatively benign group, self-monitoring alone or mildly enhanced–in other words, patient engagement in SMBG–made no significant difference. The UNC-Chapel Hill researchers concluded that “This pattern suggests that, for SMBG to be an effective self-management tool in non-insulin-treated T2DM, the patient and physician must actively engage in performing, interpreting and acting on the SMBG values.” (Editor’s emphasis) In other words, more–not less–human contact would be needed for SMBG to work better, at least with this group! This Editor would then like to see a comparison with insulin control. Also Healthcare Dive