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Dr Albert Tzeel Highlights How PCPs Care for Patients With Diabetes

With not enough endocrinologists to go around, primary care physicians are important when it comes to caring for patients with diabetes, Albert Tzeel, MD, MHSA, FAAPL, regional medical director, senior products, Humana, said at the 4th Annual Patient-Centered Diabetes Care Meeting, held April 7-8, in Teaneck, NJ.


With not enough endocrinologists to go around, primary care physicians are important when it comes to caring for patients with diabetes, Albert Tzeel, MD, MHSA, FAAPL, regional medical director, senior products, Humana, said at the 4th Annual Patient-Centered Diabetes Care Meeting, held April 7-8, in Teaneck, NJ.

Transcript (slightly modified)

What does shared decision making look like to you?

Shared decision making is really when the patients or, in our case, the members, gets empowered to make the appropriate decisions for their health with their providers. So it's doctors not just dictating what to do, but members having an understanding and an involvment in their own care, so that ultimately they can move their health in the right direction.

What is the importance of the primary care physician when caring for patients with diabetes?

We talk a lot about endocrinologists and as we've heard, there's not enough endocrinologists to go around. Especially in areas like my market in north Florida, we have a lot of rural areas so there might not be an endocrinologist at all. I believe the statistics nationally have shown that probably about 90% of the care that is provided for diabetes is provided by a primary care physician. So the primary care doctor not only needs to be up-to-date about what's going on in diabetes, but they have to know the appropriate prescriptions to make and how to work with that member.

And in a lot of respects its a lot easier than working with the specialists because that primary care physician is going to see that individual not just for their diabetes, but they're going to see them for perhaps heart conditions or COPD or just general wellness visits, or maybe they're seeing their entire family and other aspects. So that primary care doctor has a different relationship with that member and can influence that member and can also take back information from that member a little differently than just the specialist who is seeing that person on a more episodic basis.

So they're really the backbone of the system at least from the folks we're working with and we've done a lot of investing—and I'm not referring to financial investing, I'm referring to informational and partnership with our primary care doctors—and it's really, I think, paying off some huge dividends for our members.

 
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