Diana Pihos is the Director of Communications for the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). She was somewhat caught off-guard at last month's Diabetes Social Media Summit, when our group barraged her with questions about the state of diabetes education in this country. I asked Diana to kindly offer us a recap of what she heard there, and what her organization intends to do about it.
A Guest Post by Diana Pihos of the AADE
When Roche asked the American Association of Diabetes Educators to participate in their Social Media Summit late last month, my colleague, Dawn Sherr, RD, CDE, and I were happy to accept. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew that it was a unique opportunity to hear directly from people living with diabetes... and blogging about it every day.
As the dialogue got started, one thing was clear: the bloggers in the room were a passionate group that cared deeply about the issues relating to diabetes care in this country.
For about an hour, we had a constructive, yet sometimes contentious, conversation about the need to increase access to diabetes education, and increase the number of opportunities for people with diabetes and younger healthcare professionals to be a part of the solution.
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Increasing access to diabetes education, encouraging new professionals to enter the field, and providing the tools and resources that diabetes educators require to meet the needs of their patients are all at the heart of what AADE represents.
There are many different ways we are approaching these huge issues. Over the years, AADE has focused on advocacy at the legislative and regulatory level, working with physician groups to increase referrals for diabetes education and recruiting more healthcare professionals into the field, such as pharmacists.
We also provide patient-centered tools and resources to diabetes educators that encourage the participation of the individual in creating a care plan. We recognize that patients are at the center of the care team and must be actively involved in making decisions about their diabetes.
AADE also recognizes that patients have a unique perspective on diabetes care and can offer support and help to their peers. That is part of the reason why we wanted to participate in this Summit—so that we could gain a first-hand understanding of the issues that are important to individuals with diabetes.
I'd like to assure you that we heard what you—the summit participants—were saying, and we want to let you know that we have been working to increase the involvement of community health workers and peers in the diabetes care team. We recently published a white paper that outlines models.
There are many different names for them—community or lay health worker, health advocate, peer counselor, peer health promoter, to name a few—but the role is the same: working within the healthcare team to provide the patient with information and behavioral support that will lead to improved health outcomes.
The role of peers is still evolving and there are many issues that have yet to be addressed. The biggest challenge is creating a sustainable model. That's what groups like Peers for Progress are doing: building an evidence base for peer-patient interventions and helping to establish peer support as an accepted, core component of diabetes care. AADE is active in many such groups and will continue to be.
AADE is committed to listening to the valuable feedback from healthcare providers and the patient community and will look for opportunities to both gather input and solicit support.
Thank you to Roche for giving us this opportunity. We look forward to continuing a dialogue.
Thank you, Diana. As we stated at the event, we (D-blogger) patients are here to help!