What to Know About Telehealth for Type 1 Diabetes

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Telehealth is a way to receive healthcare services remotely through various communication technologies. Type 1 diabetes—a chronic autoimmune condition that affects the ability of the pancreas to make insulin—is a condition that can receive some level of care via telehealth.

Young woman having online meeting with female healthcare provider

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Telehealth and COVID-19

With the spread of COVID-19, telehealth has become an attractive alternative to in-person healthcare appointments. While healthcare offices and clinics are taking measures to keep staff and patients safe, refraining from going to public places—unless necessary—is a good practice during a pandemic.

When to Use Telehealth for Type 1 Diabetes 

Telehealth can help you manage type 1 diabetes and see your healthcare providers on a regular basis. You may be able to schedule a virtual video or phone call appointment to discuss your current treatment plan and ask questions.

When your treatment changes or you have problems managing blood glucose levels, you may need to see a practitioner every three months to review treatment. If you do not need to change treatment and are able to control blood glucose levels, you may only need to see a medical professional every six months.

During a telehealth visit, your healthcare provider can: 

  • Answer your questions 
  • Review diabetes data from your device, such as a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), blood glucose meter, or insulin pump
  • Review your last A1C reading
  • Check your feet and skin using a camera from your phone or computer 
  • Review, change, and prescribe medications
  • Talk about lifestyle and diet changes 
  • Recommend additional tests 

You May Need to Be Seen In Person If…

Sometimes a telehealth visit is not enough, and you need to see a healthcare provider in person. You may need to see a practitioner if you:

  • Need an A1C blood test
  • Need other laboratory tests 
  • Need imaging tests
  • Need a procedure or surgery
  • Need vaccinations 
  • Have complications from diabetes 
  • Have frequent episodes of high or low blood sugar
  • Have an emergency or need immediate care 
  • Suspect you may have diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)

Benefits and Challenges

The benefits of telehealth can vary from person to person. However, many patients enjoy the convenience of seeing their healthcare provider online and prefer not having to travel to an office.

Other benefits of telehealth include:

  • Lower risk of being exposed to COVID-19 and other diseases  
  • Possible savings on insurance copays 
  • Saving time and the cost of travel 
  • Ability to access healthcare providers more frequently 
  • Ability to send emails, texts, or other messages safely online to practitioners 

However, telehealth also creates challenges for people with type 1 diabetes. One of the most common barriers is access to technology and the ability to use it. Telehealth requires a computer, smartphone, or tablet with a camera to work in most cases.

Other challenges of telehealth include:

  • Not having a reliable Internet or mobile connection 
  • Problems downloading and sharing diabetes data from devices 
  • Your healthcare provider cannot do a physical exam and check your feet, skin, or injection areas properly 
  • Your practitioner cannot do laboratory or imaging tests on the same day 
  • Your medical professional cannot measure your blood pressure or weight 
  • Privacy concerns 
  • Not all insurance companies provide coverage, and some people do not have insurance 

How to Prepare for a Telehealth Visit for Type 1 Diabetes

To prepare for a telehealth visit, your healthcare provider usually sends information or a list of steps. Ask your practitioner for additional help if you need it. 

To get ready for a telehealth visit, you can:

  • Prepare a list of questions and medications 
  • Download and share diabetes data from your device
  • Check your weight and blood pressure at home if possible 
  • Fill out paperwork online
  • Photograph any rashes or other problems you can upload 
  • Set up your computer, phone, or tablet in a safe and quiet place with good lighting 
  • Test your Internet or mobile connection 
  • Test your camera 
  • Download any software or apps your healthcare provider requests to host the virtual visit 
  • Log in early, before the appointment, to check for technical problems 

Will Insurance Cover Telehealth for Type 1 Diabetes?

Telehealth services are not free, but many health insurance companies cover telehealth services, including online, video, and phone consultations. Ask your plan provider specific questions about coverage before setting up a telehealth appointment. 

Medicare covers some telehealth services, and the amount you pay is usually the same as seeing the healthcare provider in person. Medicare has expanded coverage temporarily because of COVID-19. Medicaid also covers live video visits, but other policies can vary from state to state. 

If you do not have insurance, you may be able to use telehealth through private-pay services. Ask your medical professional if this is an option. 

What Happens During the Visit

During your telehealth visit, the healthcare provider will review your diabetes data and A1C test results if they are available. They will answer questions and discuss your treatment plan. They may also use your camera to check your skin and feet. 

Your healthcare provider may prescribe or refill medications for your type 1 diabetes. They may order additional tests, such as the A1C. In general, if your diabetes is under control, you may be able to continue using telehealth for future visits. 

A Word From Verywell

Although telehealth visits are an option if you have type 1 diabetes, it is important to tell your healthcare provider if you are uncomfortable with them. There are some situations that still require an in-person visit. You may need to see a practitioner in person if you are having complications or difficulty managing diabetes at home. 

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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