Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists

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How can social media bring together patients and professionals?

May 26, 2015

Recently, I have been making more use of social media to connect with other diabetes educators and persons with diabetes (PWD). The one thing that has made the biggest impression on me is the massive amount of PWD who share, connect, support, and interact on Twitter and Facebook.

I have recently become more familiar with what these individuals do and decided to write a blog in which I invited a very active member of the diabetes online community (DOC) to share with diabetes educators (DE) the benefits of social media. I asked Manny Hernandez, founder of Tudiabetes.org and leading participant in the DOC, three questions about social media and how it can bring together patients and professionals. I hope that this will encourage more DEs to participate in online communities and direct their patients to support resources to be found there.

IS: How can social media help persons with diabetes?

MH: Social media is a great vehicle for people to share information about diabetes treatments and therapies, learn from others like themselves, receive much needed support from others touched by diabetes and to have an impact beyond our own lives; helping others who need us.

IS: What role does social media and PWD have in increasing access to DSME/T legislation?

MH: First off, it begins with having people with diabetes understand the importance of diabetes education. We, as diabetes advocates, play a big role in conveying this to the people we communicate with. By having people who understand the essential role that diabetes education plays in diabetes management, social media can become a powerful vehicle for them to raise awareness about this issue and to gather support around it, so people take ownership at the local level for having legislation passed in support of increased access to diabetes self-management training.

IS: What role can diabetes educators play in increasing diabetes awareness using social media?

MH: First off, it is important to understand social media. Hope Warshaw and I did a presentation at the 2011 AADE Annual Meeting called, "The DOC: What the heck is going on?" that can help diabetes educators understand more about what social media is being used for in the diabetes world.

Once you have an understanding of what social media is and isn't, you can start being active and guide patients to groups best suited to their needs. For instance, if you see more women in your practice, you can recommend DiabetesSisters.org to your patients. If you see many children, you can recommend that their parents read the blog by Diabetes Dad or D-Mom Blog. If you see adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you can recommend they join communities such as TuDiabetes.org, DiabetesDaily.com or DiabeticConnect.com. For a more comprehensive list of diabetes social media outlets, check out www.diabetesadvocates.org.

IS: Thank you, Manny for sharing these resources with me and the diabetes educator community.

To all the AADE Blog readers...Do you point your patients to online resources or urge them to seek out online support? Which websites/communities have you discovered that you've shared with your patients?

If you're on Twitter, or want to start a Twitter account, feel free to connect with me at https://twitter.com/IrisSanchezCDE!

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