by Hannah Robinson
November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and it’s an excellent time to critically rethink care for a chronic illness that more than 30 million people in the U.S. are living with. The annual costs for which included $237 billion in medical expenses and $90 billion in reduced productivity, as found by the National Institute of Diabetes.
Reaching out at the right time matters.
You may or may not have diabetic patients on your payroll, but in either case, it’s crucial to understand when a diabetic health plan is needed and what signs you need to look for in order to provide complete care—before it becomes a problem. Nurse Deb, president of Ault International Medical Management (AIMM), describes what the future of diabetic care might look like. “Most traditional programs,” she warns, “are disease-centric, not patient-centric, which is problematic for a couple of reasons. One, it’s not very effective—it doesn’t change outcomes or clinical aspects of the patients care. Two, it’s inefficient, and, as anything that’s inefficient in American business, that means it’s costly.” Nurse Deb lays out succinctly the history of diabetic care, which she finds woefully lacking.
“Most people with Diabetes are already doing all that they can to manage their health,” she explains. This is why you might find that employees with diabetes are reluctant to collaborate about their care—it's a condition that can be watched easily by others, but is mostly managed alone. “That’s why we center on motivation indexes and tracking if and when there might be need for an intervention. You’ll find that those who are already optimally managing their care, or who don't have new symptoms or acute episodes, are still afflicted by other things.”
“For example,” Nurse Deb explains, “a perfect time to reach out to a diabetic patient is when they have a UTI or a sinus infection.” She laughs a little, because she knows how that sounds, but stay with us. “You might say something like, I know you only have a sinus infection, but I wanted to reach out and ask how that’s affecting your blood sugar.” Likewise, this can be done by noticing when patients are trying new medications, or if they are considering surgery.
“In fact, a diabetic patient is eight times more likely to be readmitted after open-heart surgery.” Nurse Deb repeats the “eight times” because that’s a huge risk that employees may be taking on alone. “What you really need is someone on the acute care side to be monitoring, so that you can have an immediate impact.” Instead of a broad, impersonal plan that can only function as long as employees actively seek engagement. The fact that this is a tricky process in not lost on us all, but the crux of it is timely collaboration. It’s carefully waiting for the optimal time to increase engagement and offer care that will improve the overall health of your employee.
An all encompassing approach.
Tria Health was founded on the mission of wholistic care coordination and has a similarly modern approach. “Comprehensive care is critical for successful management of diabetes. Patients with diabetes must be supplied the tools and information to understand the disease, the goals of therapy, and the impact that medications and lifestyle choices have on preventing long-term complications,” Tria contributes.
They also have a focus on engagement: “Diabetes management involves creating a treatment plan that includes actionable steps and ensures consistent follow-up to evaluate treatment effectiveness and adherence.” By not only being available, but actively seeking communication, patients utilizing Tria are able to achieve care that is comprehensive and collaborative.
“Successful management of diabetes also involves an emphasis on the lifestyle choices that impact glycemic control,” Tria says. “Proper dietary choices and physical activity are proven interventions that must be included in the diabetic care strategy. Once a plan is set, blood glucose monitoring can be an effective tool in monitoring glucose levels over time. Data from these devices provides patients and their care teams valuable insight into the effectiveness of the treatment plan.” (Tria Health utilizes Clinical Pharmacists, who are also Certified Diabetes Educators, along with Health Coaches, to provide an all-encompassing approach to diabetes management.)
“We coordinate care with physicians and facilitate one on one consultations to provide the education and counseling necessary to achieve clinical outcomes and prevent diabetes related complications,” Tria finishes. This company is well-versed in doing the hard work of discovering necessary vs. unnecessary care. Cookie-cutter plans are becoming a thing of the past. The future of health is a personal approach, filled with appropriate timing and communication.
While there is no one secret strategy that makes care management easy, both Nurse Deb and Tria Health, give an idea of the many blueprints for success.
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