Collectively, we’ve all paused to assess and adjust as we navigate a new normal amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, yet understandably, this has included a pause inconsistent medical care for some. Nearly half of Americans surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation say they or a family member have skipped or delayed medical care because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to worsening conditions for many.
Among people with diabetes, according to an American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Thrivable survey, almost half delayed seeking the routine medical care they need to manage their condition during the pandemic, mainly because they feared COVID-19 exposure. Yet delaying care and not regularly seeing a healthcare provider can increase the risk for serious complications for people with diabetes. Furthermore, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that the added stress from COVID-19 and avoiding the doctor can have tremendous psychological effects on people with diabetes that can ultimately impact how they manage their condition.
That’s why it’s important to know there are options to return to care safely, including in-person and telehealth visits. If you or a loved one lives with diabetes, developing a plan to safely return to care and resume consistent visits with your health care providers to check A1C levels can help maintain appropriate treatment and care. Contact your healthcare provider’s office to determine which type of visit, whether in-person or telehealth, is right for your return to care.
During an in-person appointment, you and your healthcare provider can discuss A1C levels, diabetes management, and treatment plans in the office as usual. If you are going to an in-person appointment, ask the office about its current process and recommendations for returning.
The CDC also has guidelines to protect yourself during the visit, including interacting with as few people as possible, keeping at least six feet of distance between you and others, wearing a mask, and washing hands frequently.
Telehealth services have emerged as a way to triage, evaluate, and care for patients without relying on in-person visits. During the pandemic, 40 percent of people with diabetes reported telehealth services made it easier to manage their diabetes, according to the ADA.
You should ask your doctor’s office whether an in-person visit or a telehealth visit is best for you.
During a telehealth visit, you can talk to your healthcare provider about A1C levels, diabetes management, and your treatment plans as usual. To inform this more holistic conversation, you should get your A1C tested at an on-site facility or use an at-home A1C test. For more tips and resources on how to prepare for a telehealth appointment, visit https://lillydiabetes.com/telehealth.
It can also be helpful to connect with those who share your experiences. Join the conversation and encourage others to return to care by sharing how you’re safely returning to your regular healthcare visits to manage your diabetes – whether in-person or virtually – using #ReturnToA1C on social media.