Elderly couple conversation with case worker

Health care is expensive and individuals diagnosed with diabetes spend twice as much on their care. Many factors including age, physical activity and family history put individuals at risk for developing pre-diabetes or diabetes.  While lifestyle and behavior can prevent or delay diabetes, many individuals struggle to make the necessary changes.

“Preventing or managing diabetes requires a team effort among healthcare professionals and the individual,” explained Denise Kolba, RN, program manager for Great Plains QIN. “Each is investing time and energy to achieve a common goal: improved quality of life through prevention or management of diabetes.”

Great Plains QIN joins the team effort to strengthen the bond between health care and self-care by providing quality improvement assistance to healthcare professionals and serving as facilitators for diabetes self-management education programs. Efforts to develop provider referral programs and increase the number of certified diabetes educators are an added value.

This united front is necessary to combat the common obstacles of healthcare today:  time and money. This is especially true in rural states where limited healthcare access adds travel time, or even a day off work, for every healthcare encounter.

“Learning in general and changes in lifestyle can be really difficult,” emphasized Colleen Swanson, RN, BSN, CDE, diabetes education program coordinator at Avera Medical Group in Pierre, SD.  “Insurance benefits vary and cost can become an obstacle for individuals seeking education and support to prevent or manage diabetes.”

The Avera Medial Group is accredited with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and is eligible for Medicare reimbursement for 10 hours of group training for newly diagnosed individuals and two hours of additional training each year. Scheduling follow-up diabetes education can be a challenge and Swanson began offering a quarterly Better Choices, Better Health (BCBH) with Diabetes workshop as a compliment to existing education. The free workshop is a six-week education program to teach skills for managing diabetes including goal setting, eating right and exercising.

“Patients have had great satisfaction from Better Choices, Better Health and it’s a great program for individuals with cost issues,” added Swanson. “We recommend it to patients we see for a one-time, quick visit for pre-diabetes who learn it wasn’t covered by their insurance. Other good candidates are people who have completed our full class series or individual session and would benefit from further accountability or further motivation.”

Efforts are ongoing to engage local organizations and healthcare facilities in communities across South Dakota to coordinate and host workshop events.  Registration is open for sessions beginning on February 27 in Brookings and Watertown, SD.  Full workshop details including other dates and locations are also available online.

There are a variety of diabetes self-management education options available throughout the Great Plains QIN four-state region.  Additional details regarding the diabetes care initiative can be found on the Great Plains QIN Web site.