ADA 2024 NEWS: Diabetes education is key for healthcare professionals, ADA president says

By Editor
4th July 2024

The president of the ADA has revealed that educating diabetes healthcare professionals will benefit people living with the condition.

During the ADA 84th Scientific Sessions in Orlando, Patti Urbanski had a clear message: Diabetes education works.

In her presentation, ‘Lessons Learned—Diabetes Education for One and For All’, Ms Urbanski highlighted ongoing research and available data on the effectiveness of diabetes education, weaving in her personal experience as a person diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in her adolescence and as a diabetes educator with over 35 years of experience in the clinic.

Additionally, she reviewed data demonstrating the significant impact of diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) and medical nutrition therapy.

Diabetes education programmes must go through a certification process, such as the ADA’s Education Recognition Program, to enable reimbursement of diabetes education services through Medicare and other payers.

Ms Urbanski summarised 2023 data, which revealed that 75 per cent of participants in certified diabetes education programs decreased their A1C, on average by 1.4 per cent, along with reductions in hospital admissions, emergency care visits, and body weight.

She said: “This is pretty impressive when we think about the A1C reduction reported with some diabetes medications, especially if we factor in the average cost of diabetes education compared to medication costs.”

As noted in the ADA’s 2024 Standards of Care, DSMES is also associated with improved quality of life, reduced all-cause mortality risk, positive coping behaviours, and lower health care costs, she added.

Ms Urbanski also highlighted the importance of training and mentoring clinical staff, especially in the primary care setting, to provide them opportunities to learn about diabetes education.

She spoke about the Duluth Family Medicine Residency program – the first residency programme in the United States that incorporated an ADA-recognised education program.

She said that it is important for diabetes educators to be embedded in the primary care team and to provide services where patients are most comfortable.

Ms Urbanski highlighted lessons learned from three examples of successful integration of diabetes education programmes into primary care: the University of Washington Medicine Primary Care Clinics in Seattle, Prisma Health in Greenville, SC, and Aspirus St. Luke’s in Duluth, MN.

She said: “The demand for diabetes education is there, if we can offer flexible services to meet the needs of clinics and health care systems.”

The ADA Education Recognition Program currently has 1,300 recognised diabetes education programmes and almost 3,700 sites where education is offered.

Ms Urbanski said that while the number of programs has decreased over the past several years, education sites have increased.

She noted that most diabetes education programmes report that their services are offered in an outpatient hospital or endocrinology specialty setting, rather than in primary care practice.

She reviewed some of the ADA’s programs and initiatives focused on expanding diabetes education into primary care settings.

“The time is now. We need to collect and disseminate information from successful programs and learn best practices to offer programming assistance to existing education programs, to expand their services into primary care,” Ms Urbanski concluded.

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