Diabetes educators can have considerable influence and success in helping patients better manage their disease, thanks to highly skilled training. Defining disease management and using those skills appropriately is the message behind “Disease Management — The Role of the Diabetes Educator” from 9:15 am to 10:15 am today in Room 220-222.
Cecilia Sauter, MS, RD, CDE, will discuss how significant changes in the healthcare arena have generated strong pressure to reduce the overall cost of patient care. Disease management has emerged as a potential strategy to enhance the quality of care for patients with chronic conditions, while reducing overall costs by managing admissions and reducing readmissions.
Sauter, clinical project manager at the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, will describe strategies for the development of successful disease management programs with a focus on effective staff training and identification of relevant patient populations.
“Diabetes educators are trained to work with patients to help them identify barriers to better manage their disease,” Sauter said. “We need to put our skill sets to use and look outside the box to work with patients not only in DMSE but also as part of disease management programs.”
We know that in chronic disease, professional care accounts for only 20 percent of a patient’s care, she said, while 80 percent has fallen to the patient’s own self-management. “The new emerging healthcare delivery system is focusing on the individual patient, and the diabetes educator needs to be part of the team in helping the patient achieve overall better health,” Sauter said.
She will identify three differences between traditional care and chronic care management and describe two roles the diabetes educator has in training chronic care managers. The traditional method, which often views the patient as noncompliant, is driven by the healthcare provider and involves educators “telling” their patients what to do through threats and persuasion. The chronic care management approach empowers the patient to personalize disease management and work toward a goal established by the patient. In this model, the diabetes educator asks more questions and listens instead of telling.
Sauter also will describe the success behind the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model. Research suggests this model can improve outcome measures to enable patients to live longer, healthier lives. The PCMH model focuses more on the coordination of care among various healthcare practitioners who share patient information with each other in preventive services, treatment of acute events and chronic illness, and end of life issues.
“Instead of strictly telling the patient what to do, we ask, ‘What is hardest for you? What concerns you the most?’ We need to engage the patient in making lifestyle choices that improve their disease,” Sauter said.
In helping patients discover and develop an inherent capacity to be responsible for their own care, Sauter encourages diabetes educators to follow the five-step empowerment model by exploring the problem, clarifying feelings, developing a plan, committing to action, and experiencing and evaluating the plan.
“Diabetes educators should jump on board and be part of the PCMH model. We are the experts and should work with patients directly in helping them manage their disease better — not just telling them what to do,” she said. “It’s also important for us to show our employers that we are the ones who can save the institution money and improve quality of care. Improved quality will attract more patients to that institution.”