As a physician, you’re probably well aware that diabetes is an enormous problem, affecting millions of Americans, and the burden of the epidemic continues to grow each year. However, many physicians do not have the time or resources to provide the level of guidance, education, and support that patients need to manage diabetes and keep it well controlled. The good news is that diabetes educators are available to help physicians who lack the time and resources to manage these individuals.
Diabetes educators are healthcare practitioners—usually registered nurses, pharmacists, or dietitians—who are intimately familiar with the disease and are skilled in providing patients with the tools and resources to help manage it. We have the expertise to coach, guide, and motivate patients, working with them to devise tailored approaches to disease management. We also are adept at reinforcing behavior changes by focusing on key self-care behaviors, such as healthy eating and being physically active. Diabetes educators can monitor patients throughout the course of their disease, thus furthering the efforts made by physicians with problem-solving strategies should diabetes-related health issues arise.
Published guidelines recommend that physicians utilize diabetes educators to support efforts for educating and counseling patients and for following up with them frequently. These efforts can, in turn, improve efficiency and outcomes. We can help patients follow your orders and track their progress and provide updates in a timely manner whenever needed. Our involvement in helping patients means we can assist physicians in meeting pay-for-performance and quality improvement goals.
Fortunately, diabetes education is covered by Medicare and most health insurance plans because studies show that people who receive this education are more likely to take medications as prescribed. They’re also more likely to achieve better control of their A1C, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol levels.
Physicians should become familiar with the benefits that can come from using diabetes educators when managing patients with the disease. Resources are available to find a diabetes educator near you, such as www.diabeteseducator.org. Doing so will enhance the care being provided to patients and may save them from experiencing more problematic complications in the course of their treatment.