Technology, new standards for diabetes education and support, and data-sharing were themes of this year's annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
The 2017 annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), which took place August 4-7, 2017, in Indianapolis, Indiana, came at a critical point in diabetes care: just days before, AADE and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) announced an updated set of education standards, which were presented at the meeting. The meeting also made clear that a new generation of tools to reach millions will soon be available.
Here are 5 takeaways:
1. Technology Is Everywhere
From apps to pumps to meters to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), the variety of technology available for diabetes care is stunning. Increasingly, new forms of technology can feed data directly to providers, allowing them to made medication adjustments between visits, so diabetes educators should play an increasingly important role in making sure patients know how to use new technology.
2. It’s Now DSMES
The new acronym stands for “diabetes self-management education and support.” What were separate processes are now one under the new standards adopted by AADE and ADA. The groups, along with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, had previously issued a position statement calling for education and support at 4 distinct points across the life span, because diabetes changes over time. Which leads us to our next point...
3. Payers, It’s Time to Step Up
This was heard frequently, but especially during the presentation by JDRF Chief Mission Officer Aaron Kowalski, PhD. In his talk about efforts to get FDA to look at parameters besides glycated hemoglobin when approving drugs and devices, Kowalski said broader standards won’t matter if payers won’t fund these innovations. “We need payers to be more encompassing.” Just as educators say Medicare and other payers must do more to support DSMES, Kowalski said the trends of rising insulin prices and benefit designs with high out-of-pocket costs can harm those with type 1 diabetes.
Kowalski lit up Twitter when he said, “We cannot have people making decisions because they can’t afford insulin. Unacceptable.”
4. State-level Partnerships Are Key
Activity in state heath offices can make the difference in helping DSMES programs open and flourish, according to Magon Saunders, DHSc, MS, RDN, LD, a program development consultant in CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. States can fund DSMES through Medicaid, run active Diabetes Councils, and help local programs leverage CDC funds to become accredited. States can also help run referral networks to connect patients with programs, and connect local programs with resources to learn proper Medicaid billing techniques.
5. With Partnerships, It’s All About the Data
The rise of technology in diabetes care is making for some interesting collaborations, as tech giants like Google and Apple find their way into the diabetes space, and traditional device makers partner with companies that specialize in chronic disease management. A company like Glytec, for example, is working with a pair of meter companies to allow doctors to titrate up insulin to the right dose in as little as 12 days, when the process might have taken over a year. AADE and WellDoc announced they will form a network to onload data from patients with type 2 diabetes to learn about population health.
In all these cases, the common denominator is the data, said keynote speaker Christopher J. Bergstrom, MBA, of Boston Consulting Group. Healthcare data will be paired with the social data from things like Facebook posts to help us learn things not yet conceived, he said.