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J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2008 Jan;2(1):15-23.

Veterans Affairs research on health information technologies for diabetes self-management support.

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Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Research, Michigan Diabetes Research and Training Center, and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48113-0710, USA.



Like many patients with diabetes, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) patients frequently fall short of self-management goals and experience multiple barriers to self-care. Health information technologies (HITs) may provide the tools that patients need to manage their illness under the direction of their primary care team.


We describe several ongoing projects focused on HIT resources for self-management in VA. VA researchers are developing HITs that seek to bolster a variety of potential avenues for self-management support, including patients' relationships with other patients, connections with their informal care networks, and communication with their health care teams.


Veterans Affairs HIT research projects are developing services that can address the needs of patients with multiple challenges to disease self-care, including multimorbidity, health literacy deficits, and limited treatment access. These services include patient-to-patient interactive voice response (IVR) calling systems, IVR assessments with feedback to informal caregivers, novel information supports for clinical pharmacists based on medication refill data, and enhanced pedometers.


Large health care systems such as the VA can play a critical role in developing HITs for diabetes self-care. To be truly effective, these efforts should include a continuum of studies: observational research to identify barriers to self-management, developmental studies (e.g., usability testing), efficacy trials, and implementation studies to evaluate utility in real-world settings. VA HIT researchers partner with operations to promote the dissemination of efficacious services, and such relationships will be critical to move HIT innovations into practice.


chronic disease; disease management; informatics; telephone care

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