Mansur Shomali’s advice to his patients with diabetes? See a diabetes educator first.
“That way, by the time the patient sees me, his lifestyle and diet are optimized and we can know how much medication he needs and what to adjust,” Shomali, an endocrinologist, said. “It’s easier for me to take care of him.”
Shomali, who works in a practice with four endocrinologists, a nurse practitioner and two diabetes educators, says the patient must play a big role in his own care: “Self-management of diabetes is integral like no other chronic disease.”
Shomali said he has seen two very different types of patients benefit significantly from working with a diabetes educator: First, the patient who is new to managing the condition benefits from discussions on food, exercise and medication – conversations physicians rarely have time for.
The second kind of patient may need insulin regularly. Insulin is a miracle drug, says Shomali, but it can be dangerous and difficult to use. To get the correct dose, a number of factors have to be considered including what has been eaten that day and activity level.
Patient outcomes confirm the benefit of working with a diabetes educator. Shomali says outcomes his practice tracks before and after a patient sees an educator, like A1C levels and blood pressure, show there is “clearly a positive impact.” And patient satisfaction goes up, too: “Once patients meet diabetes educators, they’re hooked,” says Shomali.