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With NIH funding, Polaris to develop new technology to help teens better manage Type I diabetes

Awardee Story With NIH funding, Polaris to develop new technology to help teens better manage Type I diabetes
Date: Sep 16, 2013

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Polaris Health Directions and the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing are working together to build an automated system that will help teenagers better cope with their Type I diabetes using a combination of e-technology. It will be the first system of its kind to assess and address the barriers teens face to self-manage their disease.

The project has been funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the research will be conducted in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“Handling the daily care of Type I diabetes can be a challenge for even the most diligent teenager,” said Tina Harralson, Ph.D., co-investigator for the project and a senior research scientist at Polaris. “The consequences of mismanagement can be grave, including an increased risk for amputation, kidney failure and heart disease. This system seeks to minimize those risks and improve the quality of life for teens with diabetes.”

The Technology-enabled Type 1 Diabetes Education and Support, or T1DES, system will be designed for adolescents aged 13- to 18-years-old, but could easily be adapted for people with Type 2 diabetes or other chronic diseases.

It will include the following components:

A Web-based assessment to measure the patient’s goals, obstacles to managing care, understanding of the disease and risk for complications;

Real-time patient reports that include educational materials and resources tailored to the patient’s individual needs;

A report for the clinician that highlights any psychosocial issues and other obstacles identified in the assessment, as well as the risk for adverse outcomes;

Automated referrals to mental health providers, social workers and diabetes specialists, as needed;

Text messages and emails to send reminders to patients about appointments and disease-management tasks

The EHR-compatible system will also include e-learning capabilities, such as Web-based learning modules and support groups, to provide teens with easy access to the resources they need to better manage their disease.

“With the launch of Phase I to build a prototype of T1DES and to pilot test its effectiveness, we see great potential for significantly improving a teen’s ability to manage his or her disease,” said Dr. Terri H. Lipman, Ph.D., principal investigator and the Miriam Stirl Endowed Term Professor of Nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.