My early career as a nurse started out in the acute care, ICU setting, but then I was introduced to what was the “new trend” at the time — developing the outpatient services and ambulatory care unit at Emory University Hospital — I won’t tell you what year that was! One of the initial programs was a diabetes education week where patients came onsite for a week to learn how to self-manage diabetes. I was sold! The opportunity to empower people living with diabetes to “take charge” and manage their day-to-day challenges to avoid ending up in the ICU became my career trajectory. The drive to create services and interventions to ensure diabetes health continues!
My work with a digital therapeutics company is not anything I would have envisioned when I was President of AADE in 2005-2006. After all, the iPhone was only introduced in 2007 and the Android in 2008. With the introduction of mobile technology, we finally have a technology that is with the person 24/7, is available and adopted by all demographics globally, and has the computing power that is many times more powerful than all of NASA’s in 1969! This technology and the accompanying data science explosion make it possible for us to develop solutions and tools that integrate the best of evidence-based clinical practice and self-management strategies to provide the health education and support “in your pocket” as needed. The opportunity to be involved in this digital health revolution has been incredible, making it possible for us to translate our expertise to support people with diabetes in between their health care contacts, as well as have on-demand access to the rich patient-generated health data that is needed to partner with the individual to optimize their care plan as needed.
Do you feel like your current program is an example of a new model of care? How might it evolve over the next 5 years?
Absolutely! Early in my career I was attracted to the “empowerment of patients”. With digital health we have the ultimate empowerment solutions that can be tailored to the individual person’s health needs and scaled to serve populations! This democratization of health care means that as clinicians, we are challenged daily to understand how we can work with the technology and with our colleagues in the health care system and in the community to support the achievement of health for all. As diabetes educators, we are well-positioned to be leaders in developing and implementing these technology-enabled interventions and services.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Problem-solving! This is a simplistic answer but all encompassing! I am most fortunate to be part of a technology company that has as its mission to radically improve chronic disease management by blending the clinical, behavioral, and technology user experience to empower people to achieve the best health outcomes. Addressing this mission on a day-to-day basis provides incredible opportunities to work with multiple stakeholders in the healthcare and consumer ecosystems as we develop and implement technology-enabled solutions that make chronic disease management fit into the day-to-day life experience and support clinicians in leveraging these technologies to make their work experiences better.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing diabetes educators today?
Being flexible, adaptable, and responsive to the rapidly changing practice and payment models. Virtual care, consumerism, and value-based payment models are re-defining where, how, and when care is being delivered. The opportunities are endless for educators who are willing to rethink how and when they engage with people living with or at risk for diabetes and are open to radically redesigning their services. It is critical that we expand our role to encompass persons with chronic disease on their journey to better health, looking beyond just the diabetes diagnosis and becoming more oriented to cardiometabolic and other co-morbidities.
How has being an AADE member helped you treat patients?
Being an AADE member has provided me with the practice guidance, the professional networking, and the leadership experience to support my career development.
Describe your best experience with AADE.
I’ve had many great experiences with AADE! The opportunity to be President for a national organization that has an incredible global reputation was incredible. From this perspective, I’ve learned that the opportunity for the organization to be the “integrator” for diabetes health is now!
With our intrinsic knowledge of person-centered care, self-management coaching, leadership in team-based care, and the use of data for shared decision-making, the association can boldly assume this role. As defined by Don Berwick and his colleagues at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Integrator is a single organization (not just a market dynamic) that induces cooperative behavior among health service suppliers to work as a system for the defined population.
With 2019 just beginning, what a great time to be a part of the AADE community!
What are some of your interests outside of diabetes education?
I am acquiring a new interest as my daughter has just started oyster farming -- I look forward to seeing how this may broaden my on-land gardening interests! After an incredible trip to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos last year, I am working on my next travel experience… stay tuned!
Based on your experience, what advice would you give to aspiring Diabetes Educators?
Be the one to show up and participate in being part of the solution for the next generation of health care!