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Are Diabetes Educators Really Needed?

May 26, 2015

Individuals can access just about anything online to help them manage their diabetes. So, why are diabetes educators needed?

Any website can provide patients information on diabetes, medical nutrition therapy, complications and how to treat or avoid them. The best part is that the information on the internet is free and more current than the knowledge sometimes possessed by diabetes educators. There is a plethora of reliable and credible sources for individuals to use. Some great patient resources are from AADE (such as the AADE7 Patient Handouts), the American Diabetes Association, or from pharmaceutical companies.

Many insurance companies now provide patients with diabetes a case manager who can guide them on how to care for diabetes. I have even read about virtual diabetes educators who can be accessed online or via phone to provide advice and guidance. Karen discussed the use of smartphones on her April 7th blog which are also being used by persons with diabetes.

Even with all the information and resources out there, I still think diabetes educators are crucial for long-term patient success with diabetes. 

First of all, not everyone has access to the internet or can read. Additionally, individualized management by a person who knows the patient and their life experiences is an invaluable addition to the delivery of information during diabetes education sessions. The information and resources available online are a wealth of knowledge...but how many of us have read an article, blog, or news story about how to lose 10 pounds...and have immediately gotten up from the computer and started making healthier food choices and started getting active? I think I can safely say that making lifestyle changes and behavior modification is not as easy as it might seem.

Diabetes management is complicated--and a diabetes educator is critical for helping others navigate the maze. Because there is so much information, this can sometimes be overwhelming. So, yes, diabetes educators are really needed.

What are your thoughts? How can we convey this message when there is so much information patients can access from other sources?

3 comments

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  1. Jul 06, 2011

    Diabetes Educators are needed but so many people are not aware of how serious diabetes can be in health-quality of life and health care cost. I recently stopped working in a critical care heart setting because the hospital recently quit taking the time in the hospital (hurry to admit and hurry out to make more $) or provide good out-patient programs where I live at for diabetic education. I want to start private practice work and have had several calls and client appts with people that wants in depth knowledge in diabetes and renal disease. Also, too many health related occuptations employees are trying to teach diabetic that do not know what they are doing. Any CDEs starting private practice work with good business knowledge?
  2. Apr 19, 2011

    Well stated, Iris !! I must say, you had me with your tag line "Are Diabetes Educators Really Needed ?".....I answer a resounding "YES" !!! Without a doubt, there is a plethora of information available on the web and elsewhere; as we are all aware as healthcare professionals, our patients are supplied with all types of information, but are often confused as to how to interpret it correctly or appropriately for their particular situation. A knowledgeable CDE is needed to successfully guide a patient to their goals. How many times have you heard from one of your patients, "I never knew what that meant", or "No one ever explained that to me, so that I could understand"......there is no better reward than that....whether a patient is computer-savvy,uses a smartphone, or neither, we need to tailor our care and education to our individual patient's needs......no pre-packaged wording can replace a caring human being. Thanks for reading.
  3. Apr 19, 2011

    There is a symposium on this topic at ADA. We need to be able to position ourselves as part of the patient centered medical home. In addition, we have expertise that other health care professionals do not and need to make sure that is universally known. We can also help with patients' health literacy and numeracy issues. Most PCPs do not have the time to either assess or intervene in this area.

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