Importance of Follow-Up
Once you give patients a diagnosis of diabetes, you likely tell them about the importance of self-care and direct them to take their medication, monitor their blood glucose, exercise and lose weight if needed. But research shows patients with diabetes have a spotty record of following their doctors’ advice, even after they are told it’s important. Consider:
- Medication – only 77 percent of patients with diabetes take insulin as prescribed and 85 percent take other medications as prescribed
- Monitoring – fewer than half – 45 percent – monitor their blood glucose as told
- Exercise and weight loss – only 24 to 27 percent of patients follow the instructions closely
The truth is it takes time to educate patients about self-care and help them make significant changes. That’s time you don’t often have. But diabetes educators do – and they’ll keep you in the loop on your patients’ progress. Diabetes education is a collaborative process between the educator and the patient that usually includes up to 10 hours of counseling in the first year after diagnosis to address a variety of topics in depth – from healthy eating and exercise to monitoring and medications to problem-solving.
Because behavior change is difficult and can take time, it’s important that you not only refer your patients with diabetes to a diabetes educator, but follow up with them to be sure they are continuing their education. Having a patient work with a diabetes educator and supporting that interaction will ensure better outcomes for the patient.