The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the South Carolina Clinical and Translational Research Institute at the Medical University of South Carolina are partnering to decrease diabetes prevalence and complications in Bamberg County, S.C.

The Bamberg Diabetes Transitional Care Study will utilize "cutting-edge" iPad technology to explore the impact and feasibility of different diabetes interventions for patients transitioning from the hospital to home.

The three-month research study will investigate which of the following three approaches to diabetes management is most effective: bringing in community health workers to aid high-risk patients in managing their care; follow-up phone calls by nurses to patients; or standard physician instructions alone.

The overarching goal of the initiative is to establish a cost-effective and best-practice diabetes management model in Bamberg County that could be disseminated nationally. The model ultimately could reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions and improve self-care for this high-risk population.

In the course of the study, the researchers will be using iPads to perform medication reconciliation; to create and assess disease-specific checklists and warning signs; to do diet and physical activity assessments; and to provide resources for patients like teaching videos, accessible community resources, and dietary advice. The iPad checklists will be incorporated into the clinic record and if any red flag checklist items are activated, seem not to be making sense, or signaling that things are not going well, users will be connected to the clinic in real time.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in South Carolina, and nearly 15 percent of Bamberg County residents are diagnosed with the disease (a rate more than 1.5 times the national average). The county’s rural nature, which restricts access to medical care, nutrition counseling, and self-management training for chronic illness, also makes it an ideal intervention setting for this initiative, researchers say.

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