By Healthy Living with Diabetes, Kentucky Department for Public Health
Access to quality accredited/recognized DSMES services in Kentucky is challenging. Although the state has made significant strides in improving access, these programs are not offered in 31 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Even in areas where services do exist, the frequency of offerings is often limited and participation is impacted by the rural geography.
Funding from AADE’s Reaching Out for Better Health grant is supporting the use of telehealth technology to expand access to DSMES in an underserved area in southeastern Kentucky. An accredited DSMES provider under Kentucky’s unique program model, Healthy Living with Diabetes (HLWD), will expand telehealth services to reach outside of their defined geographic region to an additional location that has no access to these services, a small rural county in southeastern KY. This small rural county located 120 miles to the southeast of the program site has a population of less than 30,000 and is designated as “distressed” by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The addition of telehealth will allow the program to increase their reach and the number of DSMES services offered in their own 10 county region. It will also provide access to DSMES services in an additional underserved area outside of the program area that currently has no access to DSMES services.
It is anticipated that the lessons learned (technology issues, administrative process, changes in teaching methods, and recruitment strategies) from this work will be shared across other HLWD branches throughout the state to create additional telehealth programming. We also hope to mentor potential diabetes educators in this small rural county in southeastern KY and other areas so that they may be able to become DSMES providers themselves.