WRITTEN BY: GINGER VIEIRA
Skipping routine A1c tests because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and telehealth appointments have left many people with diabetes with rising blood sugars and too little support.
The sharp drop in A1c testing over the last year during the ongoing pandemic and a rocky transition to virtual healthcare has left many people with diabetes with rising blood sugars and too little support.
OBSTACLES TO GETTING YOUR ROUTINE A1C TEST
Depending on the resources where you live, getting an A1c test prior to a telehealth appointment with your doctor came with many potential obstacles such as:
The labs in your area were closed.
Open labs are not within reasonable distance from your home.
Your healthcare team had no system in place to order labs under these circumstances.
Doctors working from home had no way to send referrals from home computers.
Doctors working from home were unable to access their usual appointment process.
You were afraid to go get blood work done due to the pandemic.
You didn’t want to sit in your car and wait to be called into the lab.
You were reluctant to go somewhere new for lab work.
You were given a referral to get blood work done but decided not to go.
“75 percent of our patients are still choosing telehealth appointments,” says Jennifer Okemah, MS, RD, BCADM, CDCES, CSSD, from Salute Nutrition near Seattle, WA. Okemah and her team work with people with diabetes from all over Washington state.
Fortunately, Okemah and her team were well-prepared for virtual healthcare, because it had been part of their clinic prior to the pandemic with clients spread across the state and only 4 physical offices.
However, the patient referrals Okemah normally receives from other primary care and endocrinology offices revealed just how significant the lack of A1c testing was for patients in other clinics, and the inability to send referrals at all during stay-at-home orders.