Compassion, innovative AI technology come together to care for Billings Clinic diabetes patients
Draw a line from Chicago to Washington, DC, and that will give you an idea of the size of the geographic area Billings Clinic serves. It’s an area that covers a large portion of Montana, northern Wyoming and the western Dakotas; and one that leans heavily toward rural and frontier populations who are often hundreds of miles away from specialty medical care.
When it comes to diabetes care, that huge coverage area and the large number of rural patients means that Billings Clinic has to find new ways to make sure that patients get the quality care they need, no matter where they’re at. That’s where the health care system’s care and research collaboration with medical software company DreaMed comes into play, using an innovative artificial intelligence-driven technology called endo.digital to bridge the gap and help care teams monitor and take care of diabetes patients remotely. This in turn gives diabetes patients endocrinology care from home, greatly reducing their travel burden and giving them more time to live their best lives.
“Our diabetes care has always been pretty progressive and forward thinking,” said Colleen Wood, MD, Billings Clinic pediatric endocrinology. “Our staff and team is always looking for ways to reach more patients more frequently, and to help those patients self-manage when they’re so remote and far away from us. So platforms like endo.digital that allow us to do that more effectively are really, really helpful. When you’re servicing a region as big as ours, it’s important to be on the forefront of those technologies so we can reach those patients faster. In a rural area, that means they’re not left behind. Many times patients in rural areas are the last to have access to quality specialty care, but because of programs like this, our patients are the first ones to get it.”
Using a small wearable device, the endo.digital platform tracks health data about the patient in real time, along with assisting in insulin management, and uploads that information to a secure cloud-based system that Billings Clinic care teams can access any time. This lets providers evaluate and adjust treatment for diabetic patients quickly, frequently and without those patients having to travel to Billings for an appointment with their care team.
Additionally, the platform uses AI to crosscheck and learn about patient care plans while providing a second opinion and treatment recommendations that doctors can review and implement as needed. This provides endocrinologists and others with another tool to both monitor and adjust patient care with up-to-date information at any time.
“At Billings Clinic we’ve set our program up to care for patients so that from the minute of their first call or when they walk in our doors, we can care for them through their journey,” said Lisa Ranes, RD, CDCES, Billings Clinic Manager of Diabetes, Endocrinology, Metabolism, Diabetes Research and Allergy. “One of the ways we do that is through our electronic medical record, but most important for the patients with diabetes, is our team has really embraced innovative technology. When our care team can look at patient data remotely we can help patients take care of their diabetes, preventing the highs and lows and keeping them safe where they live. It’s still human-driven by our compassionate care teams, but they’ve got cutting-edge tools to help them reach more patients at home.”
The American Diabetes Association estimates approximately 77,847 people in Montana alone have been diagnosed with diabetes, which represents 9.1% of the state’s adult population. Diabetes affects about 30 million people overall in the U.S.
With a growing need in the U.S. for specialists, such as endocrinologists, combined with Montana and Wyoming’s rural population, innovative care approaches are becoming more and more critical to make sure people get the care they need.
“We can use this so our teams can better support our patients wherever they’re at, and it lets us see more patients because they don’t have to travel far to see us now,” said Gabe Blomquist, PA-C, with Billings Clinic’s Diabetes, Endoncrinology and Metabolism team. “We can then make treatment decisions using that data and suggestions it provides, and deliver that directly to the patient.”
To learn more about Billings Clinic’s use of this innovative technology, click here.
The robust team at the Billings Clinic Diabetes Management Center provides comprehensive, team-based, diabetes care. To learn more about diabetes care at Billings Clinic, visit www.billingsclinic.com/diabetes or call (406) 238-2500.