Fresh Views

Diabetes Technology and Solution-Focused Practice: A Telehealth Experience

 It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see. – Henry David Thoreau

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Back in January we shared the top 10 things that 2020 taught us (you can read it here) and #5 was to Keep a mindset focused on finding solutions, rather than focusing on problems. Little did we know that we would be applying that lesson to many aspects of our lives throughout the year. In some ways it’s difficult to believe that an entire year has passed since the world first shut down and the new concept of “social distancing” became the norm. And with that the need to quickly find a solution to no longer being able to meet with clients in person. Tami works with a dually accredited Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support program (DSMES) in public health which quickly became part of a statewide pilot to pivot to online virtual delivery. Rather than fixating on the “problem” at hand (no longer being able to meet in person), she and the team focused on creating solutions, leveraging the ideas, input, skills and expertise of the team she works with. To echo the Thoreau quote above, it’s all about what you envision and see in looking to the future.

Here’s Tami’s telehealth experience…

I will never forget hearing people say, “What’s so hard about switching to facilitating online. You just open up your computer and talk!” But it quickly became evident that virtual delivery is SO much more than that…my home office rapidly transformed into a small studio complete with green screen for virtual background (to hide the chaos of working from home), a webcam (for clear image and sound), a ring light (for proper lighting), a second device to log-in (to see what the participants are seeing), elevating my laptop (so it was the right height), rigging up my desk so all props were within reach, placing my notes where I could see them and still look in the camera, plus learning how to use Zoom and Docusign!  And not to mention adapting the entire curriculum and mode of delivery to be interactive and engaging. Many times I told my husband I not only had to be a content expert, but also be engaging, be entertaining, and be my own IT. It seemed that each day new considerations and challenges popped up (after all, I didn’t know what I didn’t know), but we kept a mindset focused on building solutions. And thank goodness for technology in these days of “social distancing”! The photo above from Joshua Tree is reflective of the many pieces and aspects that together built a successful telehealth program and required us to rely on a strong network of people, technology and new ideas to be resilient. (If you’ve followed our blog, you know we enjoy sharing a fresh view through an inspiring photo with each post!)

Tami’s office set-up for virtual delivery

Engaging differently through virtual visits

One quick learning with the transition to virtual DSMES delivery was that engagement is significantly different through virtual visits. Engaging virtually can bring an added level of stress…How do I connect to Zoom? My internet is unstable. How do I mute myself? Can you hear me? How do I turn off my camera? Can you see me? How do I position my laptop because I don’t like what’s in my background or how I look?…I bet you can relate to some of these! In an effort to reduce stress, and start each encounter on a positive note, I started each session in a solution-focused manner with the questions: What’s 1 thing that went well this past week (no matter how big or small)? What’s 1 change you were able to make? How were you able to do that?  Whether unmuting and sharing, or replying in the chat, this helped acknowledge each individual’s hard work and guide the discussion toward finding solutions. At the conclusion of each DSMES series when setting post-program goals, again we turned focus to areas each individual was already achieving some success and how they could leverage that for future benefit.

Telehealth virtual delivery was a success!

I’m happy to share that after facilitating multiple cohorts our program has had a 100% completion rate for most of the cohorts! Much higher engagement and completion than in-person delivery. That’s a huge win!

How has technology changed your practice or your thinking? We’d love to hear from you!

 Over the next few posts we’ll write about a variety of other technologies that impact and influence diabetes care and education including diabetes apps, digital health tools, diabetes devices, online peer support and online coaching. Stop back by in 2 weeks to see what’s up next!

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Deb is employed by Dexcom but her words and opinions in this blog are her own.