Jill Sederstrom is a Contributing Editor
Why it's a good time to become more involved in diabetes education.
The number of Americans who are diagnosed each year with diabetes is growing. According to an April 2017 report from the CDC, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes has grown from 0.93% in 1958 to 7.40% in 2015.
Research has shown that diabetes education can significantly improve patient outcomes. According to one study presented in 2014 by New York Presbyterian Hospital at the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting & Exhibition, a diabetes self-management education program at the hospital yielded big results. They reported that after 15 months working with a diabetes educator, those who participated in the program saw an average reduction in their A1c levels of 67%. The study also found that participants LDL cholesterol levels were reduced by 53%.
According to the 2015 National Practice Study (NPS), diabetes educators include a diverse group of health-care professionals. Of the diabetes educators who participated in the electronic survey, 50% were nurses, 35% were dieticians, 6% were pharmacists, and 6% identified as other forms of health-care provider. The most common type of credential was the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), which was held by 86% of those surveyed.
As the prevalence of diabetes continues to rise, so does the need for quality educators who can help patients better manage the disease.
"The diabetes educator is the logical facilitator of change," writes lead author Sandra D. Burke and colleagues in a 2013 study published in the Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy Journal. "Access to diabetes education is critically important; incorporating diabetes educators into more and varied practice settings will serve to improve clinical and quality of life outcomes for persons with diabetes."
Pharmacists and certified diabetes educators, Geoffrey Twigg, PharmD, BCACP, CDE, and John Motsko, RPh, CDE, shared the success of their diabetes management program at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
The two developed a unique program they call CORE Clinical Care. The program was formed when Apple Discount Drugs and the Apple Diabetes Center formed a new corporation called The Apple Diabetes Center in Maryland to serve previously underserved diabetes patients within their community.
They reported that in 2014, 90 patients were treated at the diabetes center. Patients saw a mean reduction in the A1c levels from 8.19% to 7.17% as a result of the program. Significant weight loss was also seen among participants.
Pharmacists, they said, are poised to take a greater role in diabetes education due to their ability to offer comprehensive medication management. They can also monitor adherence and work with physicians to ensure patients are on the best therapy options, given any co-morbid conditions.
"The pharmacist CDE is uniquely poised to help the patient by offering not only education but also management of both real and perceived adverse drug events, medications costs and drug interactions," wrote John Schieszer in an Endocrinology Advisor article about the pharmacists' efforts and presentation.