Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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Therapeutic Inertia: What Is It and Why Is the Role of the Diabetes Care and Education Specialist So Important?

Dec 07, 2020

This year has been one of change and challenge for healthcare providers and the people they serve. However, this hasn’t slowed the pace of emerging treatments and technology that diabetes care teams need to keep up with to help their clients.

Before the pandemic, there were barriers to timely treatment adjustments and referrals to diabetes care and education. Standards of care are built around evidence showing what works and what doesn’t, but that has not translated to better outcomes, partially due to multiple factors for both the healthcare team and their clients. The overarching theme surrounding this has been called “therapeutic inertia,” the failure to initiate or intensify therapy when therapeutic goals are not reached.


Therapeutic inertia: the failure to initiate or intensify therapy when therapeutic goals are not reached


To shed light on this ongoing challenge, an initiative was started to address therapeutic inertia in diabetes care. As an alliance partner in this initiative, ADCES has represented you and made sure your voice is heard. We know a team-based approach that includes diabetes care and education specialists is stressed in the ADA Standards of Care, yet your services are underutilized and under-represented on care teams in many areas across the country. We have plenty of evidence that what you do makes an impact but is sorely underutilized. If that isn’t consistent with therapeutic inertia, then what is? 

Referrals to DSMES and the inclusion of a diabetes care and education specialist on the care team is integral to helping people with diabetes achieve positive health outcomes and reduce risks. It’s often the social and environmental factors that present barriers. Your s assessment skills look at the root of the problems to reduce the blame and shame that often leads to more inertia.

DSMES services that achieve accreditation ensure a standard of quality and have a focus on individualization of care. Diabetes care and education specialists are key to helping people activate their individualized diabetes care plans in their day-to-day life. You help with the when, where, why and how by breaking down complex medical concepts into manageable steps that are relevant to them.

For action steps to evaluate your impact on therapeutic inertia, ADCES members Carla Cox and Diana Isaacs recently published an article in Diabetes Spectrum on this topic. You can access it here: Why Are We Stuck? Therapeutic Inertia in Diabetes Education.

Effective and proactive communication with providers and persons with diabetes is essential to show your value and might take you out of your comfort zone of helping people. However, it may help to remember that advocating for your profession and specialty directly increases access and improves outcomes for people with diabetes. ADCES is continuously advocating with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and others to lower the burdens of administrative requirements so we can provide optimal care.

To learn more about the tools and resources generated during the initiative, you can visit Therapeuticinertia.diabetes.org. There are also two upcoming free webinars from the ADA on topics related to therapeutic inertia, one on Dec 16 and one on January 27. You can register for them here.


ADCES Perspectives on Diabetes Care

The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists Perspectives on Diabetes Care covers diabetes, prediabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions. Not all views expressed reflect the official position of the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.

Copyright is owned or held by the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered, and proper attribution is made to the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists.

HEALTHCARE DISCLAIMER: This site and its services do not constitute the practice of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your diabetes care and education specialist or healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. To find a diabetes care and education specialist near you, visit DiabetesEducator.org/Find.

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