Diabetes is a serious problem in the United States. Not only can the condition lower a patient’s quality of life, managing diabetes can be prohibitively expensive.
The American Diabetes Association says that the United States spends $322 billion each year managing diabetes and pre-diabetes. On average, patients with diabetes have 2.3x more medical expenses than those not afflicted by the disease.
To improve patient outcomes and lower these exorbitant costs, a new approach to diabetes management is needed. Referral to DSME/S programs for all patients with diabetes is a low cost, high efficacy first step towards lowering costs and improving outcomes.
To address the country’s diabetes problem, these programs need to be utilized as much as they possibly can. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints and staffing issues, there is still a lot of room for DSME/S program utilization to accelerate.
In our last post, we described our approach to increasing utilization of diabetes education services through the establishment of a centralized call center.
In this post, we will shine a light on other infrastructure and resources that traditional DSME/S programs do not usually have access to when trying to grow their footprints and improve their offerings—and what they could do to make that expansion easier.
The Underutilization Problem: Not Enough Resources
Many DSME/S programs following a traditional, self-operating model of service delivery find it difficult to provide comprehensive services within the limitations of their resource budgets.
As mentioned above, managing diabetes is an extremely costly undertaking. The condition already affects 30 million Americans, with another 84 million at risk of developing the disease in the near future.
This being the case, the resources required to serve such a broad patient population are not in place—leaving much of the population left with inadequate resources to share.
We have often come across diabetes centers that are doing a great job serving the needs of the patients they treat in the endocrinologist’s office. We see dedicated certified diabetes educators, nurses and dietitians providing care and education to patients with type 1 and complicated type 2 diabetes—unfortunately the efforts of these quality programs are only reaching roughly 10% of the local diabetes population.
In these settings, work is performed on an individual basis with tailored self-management education and meal planning delivered to each patient based on their needs.
Unfortunately, reimbursement models for individual care are weak; programs struggle to cover the costs on their own.
In fact, the 2015 National Practice Survey shows that a majority of DSME programs were either cost neutral or at a loss financially:
For this reason, the individual coverage model is simply not viable for a majority of the population. For DSME/S programs to reach their true promise, a new approach is needed.
If you're looking to increase utilization at your hospital or health system, be sure you get our comprehensive guide:
Serving the Other 90% of Patients
Strategies that address population health management are therefore needed in order to access and engage the 90% of diabetes patients who are treated by primary care physicians.
By adding resources and targeted campaigns to create awareness of services across physician offices—and engaging larger numbers of patients in education to improve self-care—allows for the expansion of a DSME/S program’s footprint leading to better returns on investment.
With more resources on hand, diabetes centers across the country would be able to serve a much greater percentage of patients—which translates into better clinical outcomes, lower healthcare costs and less strain on individual endocrinology practices.
Outsourced Diabetes Education Model: The Best Path Forward
By providing diabetes centers with the resources they need to deliver their quality care to more patients, we believe that partnering with an outsourced diabetes education company such as ours is the best path forward for DSME/S programs.
A key to the success of our business model is the range of support infrastructure we’ve put in place to help manage multiple programs at scale.
When diabetes centers and health systems outsource their self-management needs to a company solely focused on diabetes education and patient engagement, they benefit from that expertise in business development, operations and logistics and clinical programming—all at once. Our model sends a program director into the field who’s responsible for hospital accounts within a defined territory. This individual supports local educators at hospitals and physician offices, thereby expanding the associated program’s footprint and resources—because they can leverage ours.
Altogether, the shared resources inherent in our centralized model help to enrich local programs with additional knowledgeable staffers who perform clerical, managerial and administrative clinical duties. This enables caregivers to focus each diabetes program centrally on the patient and their specific needs.
In other words, instead of forcing healthcare professionals to spend the bulk of their days filling out forms and coordinating schedules, they are able to do what they’ve trained to do: serve each patient and help them achieve the best possible outcomes.
At ABC Diabetes, we tailor our models to each hospital, health system and primary care provider’s unique needs.
America’s diabetes problem won’t go away on its own. To get better results, we need a new approach.
To learn more about how ABC Diabetes can help your organization serve your patients more effectively, click here.