In August, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) brought together health care providers, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and certified diabetes educators at its annual meeting to highlight best practices for improving diabetes care through education. At this year’s event, AADE recognized two QIO Program leaders for their efforts to improve the quality of care for persons with diabetes.
It’s All About Teamwork
Marci Butcher, quality diabetes education initiative coordinator at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services’ Montana Diabetes Program, was named this year’s AADE Educator of the Year. During her 16 years with the program, Marci and her team have nearly doubled the number of diabetes educators in the state of Montana, and their efforts have led to more than 30 new accredited programs. But they didn’t do it alone.
“In Montana, the diabetes education landscape is one of mentoring and partnerships,” said Butcher. “Developing programs and educators get support from established ones, and then they encourage each other.”
With 7.9 percent of the state’s population reportedly impacted by diabetes, the program requires a statewide coordination according to Butcher, which is why the Montana Diabetes Program has worked in close collaboration with Mountain-Pacific Quality Health, the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) serving Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii, to improve the quality of diabetes care.
Although there is still more work to be done in reducing care disparities, Montana Diabetes Program’s collaboration with Mountain-Pacific has greatly supported its efforts to reach and provide access to diabetes education in underserved communities, including tribal regions.
“Technology has a huge role to play around the country, especially in these hard-to-reach areas. I want to focus on using telehealth to reach people in rural areas and spread education tools to more vast numbers,” said Butcher when discussing next steps for the Montana Diabetes Program.
“The diabetes education landscape is one of mentoring and partnerships.”
Creating Sustainable Programs
Ardis Reed, a health disparities-certified diabetes educator at TMF, the QIN-QIO serving Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico, was among the four individuals who were honored as Change Champions for 2016 at AADE’s annual meeting.
The award recognized TMF’s efforts to increase access to diabetes self-management supports and training, including establishing partnerships to expand the reach of educational programs and classes, launching peer-to-peer programs and improving access to community-based programs.
“When you put those three aspects together, it is the true approach to increasing access to diabetes management programs,” said Reed. “The combination of these efforts ensures that the project will live on.”
Reed explained that TMF’s model of training peers in the community ensures there are programs and educators who can succeed on their own when the scope of work ends. “It is all about developing sustainable programs in our communities,” she added.
About two years into the project, TMF has now enrolled nearly 9,000 people in its workshops across the network, with 78 to 82 percent of the registrants attending five out of six classes.
“When I’m in the classroom, the constant message I hear is, ‘I wish I had known this’ or ‘If I had known this, I could have helped my loved one,’” Reed explained.
With Reed’s leadership, TMF will continue to increase access to care by thinking out of the box and reaching those in need of diabetes education where they are — both mentally and physically.