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Type 2 Diabetes Management, Control and Outcomes During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Older US Veterans: an Observational Study.

Aubert CE, Henderson JB, Kerr EA, Holleman R, Klamerus ML, Hofer TP. Type 2 Diabetes Management, Control and Outcomes During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Older US Veterans: an Observational Study. Journal of general internal medicine. 2022 Mar 1; 37(4):870-877.

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BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic required a change in outpatient care delivery models, including shifting from in-person to virtual visits, which may have impacted care of vulnerable patients. OBJECTIVE: To describe the changes in management, control, and outcomes in older people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) associated with the shift from in-person to virtual visits. DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: In veterans aged = 65 years with T2D, we assessed the rates of visits (in person, virtual), A1c measurements, antidiabetic deintensification/intensification, ER visits and hospitalizations (for hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, other causes), and A1c level, in March 2020 and April-November 2020 (pandemic period). We used negative binomial regression to assess change over time (reference: pre-pandemic period, July 2018 to February 2020), by baseline Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI; > 2 vs. < = 2) and A1c level. KEY RESULTS: Among 740,602 veterans (mean age 74.2 [SD 6.6] years), there were 55% (95% CI 52-58%) fewer in-person visits, 821% (95% CI 793-856%) more virtual visits, 6% (95% CI 1-11%) fewer A1c measurements, and 14% (95% CI 10-17%) more treatment intensification during the pandemic, relative to baseline. Patients with CCI > 2 had a 14% (95% CI 12-16%) smaller relative increase in virtual visits than those with CCI < = 2. We observed a seasonality of A1c level and treatment modification, but no association of either with the pandemic. After a decrease at the beginning of the pandemic, there was a rebound in other-cause (but not hypo- and hyperglycemia-related) ER visits and hospitalizations from June to November 2020. CONCLUSION: Despite a shift to virtual visits and a decrease in A1c measurement during the pandemic, we observed no association with A1c level or short-term T2D-related outcomes, providing some reassurance about the adequacy of virtual visits. Further studies should assess the longer-term effects of shifting to virtual visits in different populations to help individualize care, improve efficiency, and maintain appropriate care while reducing overuse.

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