Diabetes educators teaching about insulin with patients 'on the go'

Virtual appointments at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital Diabetes Education Centre have received positive feedback from both providers and patients. (contributed)

If you ask Courtney Boudreau how her first diabetes appointment went over Zoom for Healthcare, she’d tell you it was a breeze. 

“It was convenient to receive care when and where I was. I wouldn’t have been able to come in person for an appointment that day. With COVID-19 [an online visit] seemed like a safer option. I did the session with my cell phone, while waiting [in my car] for an auto repair.” 

Boudreau was able to find a private area to park her car in order for her and her husband to participate in the virtual appointment while maintaining confidentiality.  

Boudreau, who is currently being seen at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital Diabetes Education Centre for gestational diabetes, needed to learn how to inject insulin in order to prevent complications during her pregnancy. 

“I’ve never used insulin before. I had no clue how to use it and needed the visual aids for things like how to poke yourself, where to poke yourself, the angle you want to use, and how to mix insulin. You can tell someone to mix something, and that can be interpreted many different ways.” 

Registered nurse, Cathy Deveau and dietitian, Crystal MacNeil, are certified diabetes educators. They were very excited to offer virtual appointments for their patients, though they did have a few questions and concerns at first. 

“Considering our current climate, there were questions in my mind surrounding its safety and confidentiality,” said Deveau. “However, we have been reassured that Zoom for Healthcare is secure compared to the general use of this technology.” 

MacNeil was also quick to point out that virtual appointments may mean some changes to workflows, however she indicated that they aren’t too strenuous, especially with a bit of planning. 

“The team reviews the upcoming schedule of visits, and based on the type of appointments that are present in our schedule, we determine which patients would benefit from a Zoom [for Healthcare] session for visual connection. We then reach out to those selected patients to explain this service, the risk and benefits, required technology, and offer it as an option for them to receive care. If the patient consents to a virtual meeting, one is scheduled.” 

“For the clinician, it largely feels the same as an in-person clinic visit. Prior to the visit, we review the chart, prep teaching aids and handouts [that] we’ll share. At the time of the scheduled appointment, we sign-in and activate the session.” 

Virtual appointments at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital Diabetes Education Centre have received positive feedback from both providers and patients. 

“In terms of nutritional care, I love that patients can go open their fridge and tell me what they see, grab their cheese to locate the percentage of milk fat or pull out all the cereal options they have at home so we can compare the nutrition facts labels together,” said MacNeil. “I can estimate the size of their juice glass and dinner plates visually, which is great.”

Deveau added that she appreciates that if offers more flexibility for patients.  

“It was very useful for our [patient] with gestational diabetes, as it enabled her to gain the knowledge she required to manage her condition, even while being out and about!” 

As for Boudreau, when asked if she would recommend virtual appointments to others, she said she would. 

“It was progressive and very client-focused