November 16, 2020

Smart glucometers benefiting Northern Health patients

Thirty-four smart wireless glucometers have been rolled out in nine wards at Northern Health, as part of the new Northern Inpatient Diabetes Service (NIDS).

Richard Nasra, from the HRO/Project Management office, explained the new glucometers are an electronic system automatically linking patient blood glucose measurements with patient data in iPM.

“When a patient’s blood glucose is measured at the bedside, the result is automatically and wirelessly logged into a software package for the Endocrinology team to review. The software automatically alerts the Endocrinology team when a patient logs a high (hyper) or low (hypo) blood glucose measurement and indicates the ward and bed where the patient is located in the hospital, enabling the Endocrinology team to proactively identify, review and manage these patients. The new meters are currently installed on Wards 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18 at Northern Hospital, with the view to roll out across the rest of sites next year,” he explained.

High and low blood sugar levels are associated with hospital acquired complications (HACs), and having an ability to proactively identify patients at risk early and treat them is not only expected to reduce the number of patients who have complications, but also has a financial impact on the hospital too. Reducing HACs is part of our HRO Trusted Care initiatives.

“This is a broad, concerted effort around how we can reduce the implications of HACs for patients, and this is one component of that. The idea is that this will form part of an early intervention/proactive hypo and hyperglycaemia diabetes service across the hospital, and reduce the number of inpatients that suffer avoidable hospital acquired complications and infections due to fluctuating blood glucose levels,” Richard added.

Dr Suresh Varadarajan, Head of Endocrinology Services and the NIDS, explained the service started in February this year and works to identify the prevalence of diabetes at Northern Health.

“We work to identify how many inpatients on a certain day, excluding certain wards, have diabetes on a given day. Unfortunately, patients in our catchment have the highest prevalence of diabetes in Victoria,” he said.

Dr Mervyn Kyi, Endocrinologist and Clinical Lead for the NIDS, says this project is an early intervention and proactive approach to inpatient diabetes care.

“From my PhD studies, we know that patients with diabetes have worse outcomes at hospitals, and early intervention for these patients can improve outcomes. The NIDS service is now running for six wards in the hospital, and we have a multidisciplinary team of clinicians who go around proactively managing people with diabetes, and optimise their care,” he explained.

The NIDS team assesses people with diabetes, and can prescribe insulin and make changes to diabetes management.

“We then review as needed, help facilitate discharge and follow up after discharge. Our rapid access clinic, which runs once a week, enables discharged patients to be seen quickly. The new glucometers enable remote glucose surveillance and help identify people with diabetes. In addition, they facilitate data capture, enabling detailed clinical research. The glucose data then allows benchmarking against other hospitals,” Dr Kyi added.

After implementation of the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system, the glucose measurements will be automatically uploaded into the EMR, which means our nursing staff won’t need to manually enter them.

Every year, 14 November marks World Diabetes Day. In Australia, statistics show that 280 Australians develop diabetes every day, with one person every five minutes.

Featured image (left to right): Patient Karen with Dr Suresh Varadarajan, Richard Nasra and Dr Mervyn Kyi holding the new glucometers.