By: AADE President, Donna Ryan, MPH, RN, RD, CDE, FAADE
Many of you have heard the term population health and some of you are probably already engaging in parts of these new health programs. So, what is population health?
Broadly, population health looks at the health status and healthcare utilization of a defined group of people. The group could be based on a geographic area, ethnic group, employees, those insured by a specific healthcare plan…the list goes on. Ultimately, the goal is to assess and improve health outcomes of the entire group while reducing health disparities and inequalities. With little exception, people with diabetes are included in most population health programs and are a focus of many population health initiatives. Herein lies our opportunity.
Many health systems, insurers, and employer groups have set up population health programs as a way to reduce costs and better manage chronic disease states across populations. As diabetes educators, we can help be leaders as diabetes specialists, care coordinators, and deliverers of DSMES. We are experts in patient engagement, high-risk patient identification, medication review and management, behavior change, program delivery, and outcomes tracking. We know how to best serve an entire population, one individual at a time. Quality outcomes for population health almost always include diabetes outcomes, making diabetes educators excellent and valued team members.
I personally began working in my health system’s program four years ago. Initially, I had some trepidation, but now that I’m fully involved, it’s amazing how much diabetes educators have to offer in this role. Not to mention the job security!
I encourage you to learn more through AADE’s new member-only population health practice area discussion group. This is your opportunity to ask questions, share your experience and learn from others currently working in a variety of programs across the country. See you there!