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The Power of Diabetes Educators

Jul 12, 2018
By: Donna Ryan, MPH, RN, RD, CDE, FAADE
Regional Director, Community Health and Outreach
Sacred Heart Hospital, Pensacola, FL 

AADE President Donna RyanDiabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) works. You know it, I know it, and the US Congressional Budget Office knows it, however it is a chronically underutilized intervention with as few as 5% of newly diagnosed Medicare beneficiaries taking advantage of it. It’s our responsibility as diabetes educators to be a voice for the profession and to elevate our presence and expertise in the diabetes arena, turning our passion into action as dedicated and skilled clinicians and practitioners with others and building a culture of excellence as an effective showcase of our worth. We must seize each opportunity that presents itself to build our brand and help people with diabetes and the healthcare system. To underscore our value, consider the following value-based propositions of diabetes educators. For more on how you can share the value of diabetes educators check out the July issue of AADE In Practice. 

  1. DSMES improves outcomes
    Diabetes education has been shown in study after study to be an effective tool for diabetes self-management. In 2015, AADE completed a systematic review to assess the effects of DSMES on blood glucose management and the results once again showed that it is effective. The impact of adding diabetes education is similar to the benefit of adding another medication at a lower cost and without the risk of side effects. 

  2. DSMES is a collaborative effort
    Working with organizations to increase utilization of DSMES and increase referrals to diabetes education is one of AADE’s top priorities. AADE is working with organizations like AACE to improve blood glucose management beyond A1C; we have partnered with the CDC to help raise awareness of DSMES and increase referrals; and recently we formed a collaboration with the Academy of General Dentistry and American Academy of Family Physicians to increase referrals to DSMES. Learn more about some of our partnerships in my previous blog post Progress and Collaboration in 2018.

  3. DSMES saves lives
    Public safety initiatives like hypoglycemia prevention, disaster preparedness, and flu vaccination directly affect those we serve. Diabetes educators are key in the effort to curb these potentially deadly issues. AADE is proud to have initiatives through various partners that touch on these issues to increase patient safety and quality of care. Through awareness, understanding, and action we can help save lives.

  4. DSMES is cost effective
    Study after study has shown that DSMES saves payers money while improving care. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has shown DSMES services under Medicare to be budget-neutral while improving outcomes, meaning impact without increased cost. And a Harvard study showed that DSMES saves an estimated $1,309 over 3 years for every Medicare Advantage patient who completed an education program. Additional studies have shown that diabetes educators were associated with lower hospitalization rates and charges and reflect a potential Medicare savings of as much as $135 per member, per month.

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