University of Warwick: Using digital flash glucose monitoring for people with diabetes & COVID-19 frees up NHS resources

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of poor outcomes and severe illness if they develop COVID-19, they need careful glucose monitoring to ensure appropriate glycaemic control during a period of any acute illness, including due to COVID-19.

In order to support the management of these patients at UHCW, digital flash glucose monitoring devices were used as part of a nationally leading research project. Researchers from WMG at the University of Warwick, and UHCW evaluated the benefits of this trailblazing research.Caption: A digital flash glucose monitoring system

They found that patients were able to be monitored as effectively as using traditional methods, such as finger pricks and time was saved enabling staff to car for more patients.

Professor Theo Arvanitis from WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“Traditional ways of measuring glucose levels are time consuming and put pressure on resources especially when under pressure from the pandemic, therefore the use of flash glucose monitoring can help free up resources.

“We are pleased to have carried out the first pilot inpatient use of digital flash glucose monitors in an NHS hospital. Overall, there are strong arguments for the inpatient use of these devices in the COVID-19 setting, as we have found that this approach if effective in monitoring patients and can help NHS workers when resources are tight.”

Professor Harpal Randeva from UHCW NHS Trust comments:
“The use of these devices frees nursing time, allows closer monitoring of patients and is popular with them. Building on this evaluation we have now offered devices to over 400 patients with diabetes and COVID-19 and feel this project represents a key step-change in providing care for people with diabetes in hospital. This approach builds on UHCW NHS Trusts Vision of being a National and International leader in healthcare, with a clear focus on world leading digital technology”

Professor Sailesh Sankar from UHCW NHS Trust added:
“Innovation is at the heart of providing the best quality care for people with diabetes. Whilst these devices have been used in the outpatient context, we have achieved the widespread use of devices in an inpatient benefiting both patients and staff. We hope others nationally can learn from this project” The monitor works by measuring glucose from interstitial space, rather than from the blood. They are applied to the patient’s skin and measure glucose levels every 15 minutes for up to 14 days. The glucose levels are then easily read by placing an electronic reader or smartphone over the device, which is more convenient and less invasive than finger-prick monitoring.

Data was gathered from patients who were monitored during their stays, the data was then analysed, and potential associations were explored between relevant parameters, including time in hypoglycaemia, hyperglycaemia, and in range, glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c), average glucose, body mass index (BMI), and length of stay.

Percentage of time in hyperglycaemia exhibited significant associations with both percentage of time in hypoglycaemia and percentage of time in range.

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