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Expanding diabetes mellitus research and telemedicine treatments

Dr. Richard Santen and a novel retirement program using telemedicine to  and care for patients with diabetes mellitus

Dr. Richard Santen is an Emeritus Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, Virginia, in the United States.

As former President of the 18,500-member Endocrine Society and awardee of its Koch lifetime achievement award, Santen has undertaken an extensive research program during his career. He has been in the full-time practice of Endocrinology for 40 years and has cared for innumerable patients with diabetes mellitus.

With that expertise, Santen decided to develop a novel retirement program using telemedicine to utilize his expertise and care for patients with diabetes mellitus. He has spent the last six years working with patients in rural, underserved, financially challenged areas in Southwest Virginia. Because of the lack of specialists in these areas, he concluded that the greatest need was to provide speciality care for patients in these areas.

Utilizing telemedicine in the battle against diabetes mellitus

The program uses telemedicine to allow him to obtain full information about the patients and to conduct a personal interview lasting about 45 minutes. He then reviews all medications and previous laboratory data and, with that information, makes an informed set of recommendations and conveys these to the primary care providers. Following this, he calls patients once each week to change their insulin doses and encourage lifestyle changes with the goal of getting their glucose levels under control quickly.

Dr. Santen has been referred to approximately 400 patients with diabetes at the present time and has had a great deal of success in improving their levels of glucose. His future plans are to use the template he has set up to recruit retired endocrinologists around the United States to re-enter practice and participate in a similar program. He calls this “rebooting the endocrinologist”. The goal is to provide better care for patients with diabetes in rural underserved areas.