At-Home Temperature Monitoring Is How We Reduce Diabetic Amputations for More Veterans

iStock.com/spukkato

Remote health care doesn't just mean Zoom appointments.

Diabetic amputations are impacting the lives of veterans on a massive scale, but they’re a huge problem hiding in plain sight. Diabetes is the most common reason a veteran is admitted to a Veterans Affairs hospital. In fact, one in four veterans in the VA health system have diabetes, and many are familiar with these statistics. 

But it’s not just diabetes that causes strain on veterans, it’s the lower extremity amputations that can come along with it. 

Up to 34% of people with diabetes have a lifetime risk of developing a diabetic foot ulcer, which can lead to an amputation. Many don’t realize 80% of non-traumatic amputations are caused by diabetes, particularly diabetic foot ulcers. 

Once you have one amputation, you’re likely to have another. In fact, approximately 40% of individuals who have an amputation will endure another within five years. These amputations radically alter lives, and the mortality rate following them is extraordinarily high (over half of patients with amputations will die within five years). 

But surgical amputations of lower extremities can be prevented through the use of technology. Some VAs are already using programs that can detect signs of foot inflammation up to five weeks before it would typically present—allowing VA providers to intervene with enough time to avoid diabetic amputations.  

This technology is critical. For many, it’s hard to notice symptoms of diabetic foot ulcers on their own. Due to diabetic retinopathy, many veterans are unable to catch early signs of wounds or inflammation that could lead to lower-extremity amputations. The foot is difficult to inspect, even with a caretaker to help. Changes can be so slow that problems seem to arise out of nowhere. 

It’s also difficult to find consistent foot care. Veterans tend to live further from health care facilities. In fact, rural veterans represent 34% of those enrolled in the VA system. These veterans might have a hard time making appointments and finding transportation, or they may lack internet access, live alone or struggle with mobility issues. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the shift to at-home medical care and telehealth services began to accelerate quickly. However, this type of remote care isn’t limited to Zoom appointments. 

To address this major problem with diabetic amputations, the VA created The Initiative to End Diabetic Limb Loss in partnership with a company that developed a Food and Drug Administration-cleared and cellular-connected mat that resembles a bathroom scale. Veterans that are at risk of developing diabetic foot complications simply step on it every day for just 20 seconds. The mat scans their feet and records the foot temperatures, monitoring for any signs of inflammation. A virtual care support team then also reviews these scans and offers support to the veteran, ensuring that any warning signs are caught early. From there, the VA provider is notified if any additional intervention is needed. The program has earned engagement rates of over 85%, generating adherence and patient satisfaction scores that are rare among at-home remote monitoring solutions. 

With technological innovation, at-risk veterans can be monitored safely at home to help prevent unnecessary amputations. The program has already rolled out in many VA locations, but every veteran deserves the option. More VAs should integrate this program and others like it, bringing the advancements of technology into the everyday lives of those that need it most. 

Bob Kerrey is a former U.S. senator and governor of Nebraska, as well as a Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient, and Jon Bloom is the co-founder and CEO of Podimetrics. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.