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Better Diabetes Management with EHRs Allows Patient to Spend More Time with Family

Posted Nov 10 2011 12:12pm

Donald Jones and his daughter An Army veteran and retired teacher, Donald Jones enjoys riding his bike, swimming with his kids, and hitting the road with his wife in their RV… despite having diabetes. What’s his secret? Mr. Jones sees a doctor who uses health information technology (health IT). He can check his latest test results from the living room couch, and even get new medications while he’s on the road. With the support of his doctor and family, he is still moving fast enough to catch a speedy seven-year-old grandson.

ONC talked to Donald about how health IT has helped him take an active role in his diabetes management, allowing him to do what he loves most, spend time with family.

ONC:

How did you feel when you were first diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes?

Jones:

I wasn’t anxious when Dr. Karen Smith my primary care doctor in my hometown of Raeford, NC, told me I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I knew that together, we would figure out a way to manage this without affecting my lifestyle in a drastic way. I’d made it through multiple knee replacements and heart issues, and I wasn’t about to let diabetes keep me from summer days in the pool with my grandson and grown children. I wasn’t worried because years earlier, Dr. Smith had adopted health IT in her practice, and we’d already been managing my health care with electronic prescriptions – where she electronically submits my prescriptions to my pharmacy.

ONC:

How has health IT helped your diabetes management?

Jones:

One of the most intimidating parts of diabetes is the frequent tests to monitor blood sugar levels, in addition to many other tests required to maintain my health. During office visits, Dr. Smith and I sit in front of her computer to review my lab results together. She taught me what to look for in these reports and what the results mean. One of the best things is that I can now go right into my electronic health record to see my latest lab reports right from the comfort of my home. If I have a question, I simply go to Dr. Smith’s website and email her, and she emails me back with answers to my questions.

Dr. Smith worked one-on-one with me to maintain my blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and together we found the right medications to minimize side effects. Through classes she recommended, I learned how to live with diabetes.

ONC:

Can you talk a little bit about how your family is involved in helping with your diabetes management?

Jones:

My family also plays a huge role in helping me make the adjustments necessary in my daily life so I can live healthier and maintain control of my diabetes. My daughter, Necy, is one of my biggest champions. She also has diabetes, and she sees Dr. Smith as well. We sit together at home and look at our test results on our computers to track how we’re both doing. We even have the same model of computer! Necy and I encourage each other to be active, go on bike rides, and eat the right foods.

ONC:

Do you feel that health IT helps make your life easier?

Jones:

Dr. Smith’s health IT system not only makes life with diabetes easier, but it helps me to take control of my health. I no longer feel like I’m sitting on the sidelines of my health, because health IT allows me to talk intelligently about my health problems. It makes my health care simple and lets me really take control. At 67, that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

Because I have control, I’m doing the things I love, like spending time with my family, and even planning to visit the Grand Canyon in my RV with my beautiful wife, comforted that I can email Dr. Smith with my latest blood glucose levels so she can help me manage my diabetes while I’m on the road. And if any changes are needed in my medications, she can easily e-prescribe them to a nearby pharmacy – whether I’m at the Grand Canyon or wherever my travel adventures take me. But most importantly, I’m beating my disease and living life to the fullest!

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