Remote Temperature Checks Reduce Diabetic Foot Complications

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Kaiser Permanente and Podimetrics, a virtual care management company, announced results of a study of patients at high risk of developing foot complications from diabetes. The study  saw major amputations completely eliminated and all-cause hospital admissions to drop by 52 percent after daily foot temperature monitoring.

The SmartMat.

Photograph courtesy of Podimetrics.

Podimetrics remotely monitors the temperature of patients' feet through the cellular-connected SmartMat that sends the data to the care management team, catching early warning signs of foot complications weeks before they usually present clinically.

The researchers examined the impact of once-daily foot temperature monitoring for patients with recently healed diabetic foot ulcers and found that for every three study participants using Podimetrics over the year-long study, one hospital admission was avoided. They also noted a 40 percent reduction in emergency department visits, and more than 25 percent reduction in outpatient visits.

The findings demonstrated that the use of foot temperature monitoring for population health management represents a significant opportunity to reduce costs and improve health outcomes by avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations and healthcare utilization, the authors concluded.

"Diabetic amputations are some of the most devastating and costliest complications afflicting people with diabetes. They have plagued some of our most vulnerable members and continue to cost the US healthcare system billions of dollars," said Timothy Swartz, DPM, a foot and ankle surgeon and a chief of podiatry with the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group. "It's a gamechanger to dramatically reduce these complications and do so in a way that lets our patients go about their lives and, more recently, remain home and safe from COVID-19."

The research was conducted across four outpatient centers within Kaiser Permanente's Mid-Atlantic States Region. Seventy-seven eligible participants were provided a SmartMat for once-daily remote foot temperature monitoring and were followed for one year. The researchers evaluated diabetic foot-related outcomes and associated resource utilization for each participant during three distinct and non-overlapping phases: the two years before study participation, the one year during the foot temperature monitoring intervention, and the period after the intervention ended through the date of the analysis.

The research, Lower resource utilization for patients with healed diabetic foot ulcers during participation in a prevention program with foot temperature monitoring, was published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, a journal published in partnership with the American Diabetes Association.

Editor's note: This story was adapted from materials provided by Podimetrics.