When someone with diabetes comes into my office, he or she doesn’t see me until after meeting with a diabetes educator. In fact, each patient spends 40 minutes with the diabetes educator during the course of their appointment with me. That gives the patient time to learn detailed information about different aspects of their diabetes management. It also gives them a chance to become more informed about each decision and ask plenty of questions. This allows me to focus on what I love most, the patient’s whole health.

The diabetes educator is an integral member of our care team at Sutter Health, which is why this approach works. We use an electronic medical record to share and view treatment information in real time. The diabetes educator answers questions for patients between office visits. They help identify the need for insulin dose adjustments and provide classes on diabetes self-management, heart health, weight loss, prediabetes, and more.

Our patients truly appreciate being able to work directly with a diabetes educator as part of the care we provide them. They love that the educator has the time and expertise to help them manage their diabetes. The educator also helps me and my physician partner care for greater numbers of patients with the condition—a fundamental piece to our success.

Physicians should recognize the value of diabetes educators when it comes to managing patients with the disease. Published guidelines recommend using diabetes educators in the course of care, and clinical studies further support the benefits of integrating them into the care team. By utilizing these valuable resources, we have the opportunity to improve how well patients control their diabetes. We can also enhance quality of life and improve patient outcomes.