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Text Messaging System Helps Diabetics Keep In Touch With Doctors

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For diabetics, watching your diet, checking blood sugar levels, and taking medications requires a lot of focus and effort.

CBS 2's Ed Curran reports there's a simple, high-tech way for doctors to support and stay in touch with their Diabetes patients.

At the University of Chicago Medical Center, Dr. Shantanu Nundy has come up with a great way to stay in touch with diabetic patients: texting.

"We're really developing this tool for anybody with a [cell] phone, which these days is pretty much anybody," he said.

Simple text messages that don't interrupt their day.

"The nice thing about text is I can receive it any point, and I check it an hour later, or three hours later. So people were telling us that it's not only easier to do, they like it," Nundy said.

Staying in touch with patients is a powerful thing for doctors. But they have to make sure they're sending just the right messages.

"Some of them are simple reminders, like 'It's 8 o'clock, time to take your medication.' Other ones are sort of weekly messages about, 'Here are the types of foods to eat, or not to eat,' and then some of them are questions," Nundy said.

Patrice Myles, a patient service coordinator at the University of Chicago Medical Center, signed up for the program, and got her mother, Linda, to join as well.

"It's encouraging, because there's somebody on the other end of the text messages. So if I don't understand something, if I have a question, I can send a response, or I have a phone number where i can call directly," Myles said.

Her mother is a registered nurse.

"One thing I like about it … if you respond not the way they want you to respond, they call you," Linda Myles said.

For patients, the texts are like having a doctor in their pocket.

"It's almost as if your doctor's calling you, 'Did you take your medicine today?' I think it's a very good motivator," Linda said.

Texting reminders, tips, and questions can really help patients stay on track when it comes to diabetes management. It's easy to see how this type of program can be expanded to other types of patients as well – from cardiac problems to weight loss. Whether you like to exercise, or just enjoy some diaper cake every day, this is the future for struggling diabetics.

You can join the CBS 2 team at the American Diabetes Association's "Step Out Chicago" walk on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Soldier Field. The 5K walk starts at 10 a.m.

Click here for details on signing up, or making a donation.

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