Smartphones influence adoption of online diabetes education tools

NEW ORLEANS — Diabetes educators should embrace evidence-based online resources for information development and delivery, and leverage the widespread use of smartphones, in particular, according to presenters here.

“Diabetes educators can take advantage of these developments to enhance their patient education, increase health literacy, and connect with patients in new ways,” Alexis Williams, MPH, MS, CHES, public health advisor for the CDC, told Endocrine Today.

According to Williams and Betsy Rodriguez, MSN, deputy director of the National Diabetes Education Program, there has been a shift in the type of content available to patients and educators; however, the basic principles of adult learning still apply. 


Betsy Rodriguez

Learner engagement is key, and the level of technology engagement will depend on the patient. “We need to meet patients where they are with technology use,” Rodriguez said.

Online resources allow educators to push information to the patient, but also facilitate interaction among patients through social networking tools that allow a broad conversation, such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other community sites, according to Rodriguez.

When integrating online resources into their programs, Williams recommends that CDEs “think about the needs of people with whom you work, what tools will be easy for them to use, and what may support their abilities to make healthy choices. Think about what tools they already use, and offer suggestions for how they might be used to support self-management.”

With 64% of Americans owning smartphones, that technology is currently the delivery method educators should be paying most attention to, according to the speakers.

“If 25% of people aged 18 to 44 years can’t remember not having their phone with them, there are probably very few times when they’re not connected to the Web in some way,” Williams said. Low-income Americans, African Americans and Hispanics are likely to use smartphones as their principal method for accessing the Internet, thus online diabetes education resources should be optimized for those devices, Williams said.


Alexis Williams

The speakers recommended using the metrics available with many online programs to monitor how patients are using suggested tools and to assess their efficacy.

“Consider these tools in your toolbox and not the answer to all of our problems. Let’s take a reasoned approach based on learning theory and based on the evidence,” Williams said. – by Jill Rollet

Reference: Rodriguez B, Williams A. W03.

Presented at: The American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting 2015; August 5-8, 2015; New Orleans.

Rodriguez and Williams report no relevant financial disclosures.

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