Pager use in pediatric diabetic patients improves outcomes and reduces costs

Families with diabetic children who have pager access to an emergency transport team see better health outcomes, according to a study from Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

In the long run, pager users are less likely to have inpatient hospital admissions, which reduces healthcare costs and ensures a significantly shorter length of stay.

Real-time support

The study analyzed pager use in pediatric diabetic patients who used the service from 2009 to 2012. Pedi-Flite, Le Bonheur's air and ground transport team, answers calls from families with diabetic patients in a model similar to 911 emergency services. Calls are routed to experienced emergency medicine technicians who are trained in diabetes care.

Results showed that while pager users were 2.75 times more likely to visit the emergency department for diabetic ketoacidosis or related illness, inpatient visits were reduced. Moreover, half of all the calls were resolved by the Pedi-Flite team without need for further physician referral. An estimated 439 emergency room visits and 115 admissions were avoided because of Pedi-Flite, the researchers noted, which added up to over $760,000 in savings.

"This innovative, cost-effective approach reduces disparities in diabetes care and improves access for our patients," Brandi E. Franklin, PhD, assistant professor in the UTHSC College of Pharmacy, said in a statement.

According to a press release on the study, Le Bonheur’s endocrinology program is recognized by the American Diabetes Association and treats more than 980 children and adolescents with diabetes.

Source: Le Bonheur

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