Allison and I have been at the AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) Annual Meeting in Las Vegas since Wednesday. It's over 100 degrees outside, massively air-conditioned and buzzing with energy here inside the Mandalay Bay resort.

Sources tell us there are over 7,000 attendees this year, and nearly 300 exhibitors — which kind of beats the pants off the already-overwhelming 185 companies that exhibited at the ADA conference in June. Why the gap? Educators are the ones with the most direct contact to diabetes patients (i.e. consumers). Thus you see booths here at AADE for everything from The Peanut Institute to National Pasteurized Eggs Inc. to Overeaters Anonymous to Skechers Shoes, Minute Rice and WalMart.

Wooing the country's diabetes educators to recommend products to their patients is big, big business. Meanwhile, certified educators earn the necessary "continuing education credits" to maintain their certification by attending a selection of the hundreds of sessions going on here.

This year, I am proud to report that one of those sessions was all about us — the DOC! (diabetes online community). Thanks to the passion and hard work of educator and author Hope Warshaw, online advocates Manny Hernandez, David Edelman, and I presented to a packed house of about 300 people Wednesday morning on all that we "plugged-in" PWDs do here online. In the audience were a bunch more of the gang: Scott Johnson, George Simmons, Elizabeth Edelman, Kelly Rawlings and a few others I'm sure I'm missing (virtual hugs to all!).

The feedback from the audience was fantastic. Numerous CDEs voiced how great it was to hear more about what patients are doing online, and that they were interested in getting involved. Many seemed enthusiastic about recommending the DOC to their patients, especially the newly diagnosed — success!  Let's hope that along with instructions on eating right, exercising, taking your meds and lab tests, connecting with other patients for moral support can become part of the diabetes prescription going forward.

Innovation 2015

David Edelman, Hope Warshaw, Amy Tenderich, and Manny Hernandez

Plus, here are some news updates from the diabetes education front:

- AADE unveils new "Behavior Score Dashboard" -

This sounded intriguing at first (what? a scoreboard for how well we PWDs behave?), but upon closer look, the Behavior Score Dashboard is just a new way to survey patients on how they're feeling about seven different areas of their diabetes management. Incorporated into a patient self-assessment form inside the AADE7 System (an online software package for CDEs), patients answer questions about a variety of areas, including their physical activity, problem solving skills, taking medication, healthy coping, and reducing risk behaviors. Their answers are then "scored" into very simplistic red, yellow and green categories, which helps educators determine areas of focus for education.

Each area of focus is given a score, and then the patient is given an overall score (yup, kind of like a grade for a class, and then your overall GPA). The idea is that the score will act like a diabetes management "A1c test"; CDEs would give patients the assessment regularly, no more often than every 3 months, to get a sense of how the patient is doing. Scores could fluctuate, AADE presenters cautioned, "because life shifts and people's priorities shift with it." Right.

But the system is not meant to be as judgmental to patients as it sounds. In fact, it's mainly a tool to help CDEs achieve some level of standardization in their practices.  Up until very recently, there was pretty much zero standardization for diabetes education; every educator around the country basically did their own thing. This Dashboard is just one way to get all CDEs on the same page when it comes to monitoring and evaluating patients.

Possibly a good idea... IF the AADE can connect the Dashboard to some kind of action recommendations; in its first iteration, it doesn't provide any actual suggestions for how to proceed when patients score in the red. Ugh.

At least the presenters were realistic enough to note that it might take a couple of tries with this survey form before CDEs actually learn their patient's real priorities. That's because on self-assessment forms, patients tend to, well, fudge a little on their answers.

Anyhoo, if you happen to encounter the AADE's new Traffic Light scoring system in your educator's office, we'd love to hear what you think.

- AADE's new "Living with Diabetes Education Program" -

AADE also announced the launch of a new "Living with Diabetes" resource program for patients, which will provide free DVDs, handbooks, coupon booklets and web-based information to patients in diabetes self-management classes. In partnership with a company called A to Z Health and sponsored by a bunch of pharma companies including Merck, Bayer, and Lifescan, the cornerstone of this program is apparently an 84-minute DVD that "features over 100 patients, family members and educators in a variety of settings" covering diabetes basics, healthy eating, problem solving, coping and more.

We haven't seen the materials yet, so can't offer an opinion on their quality or presentation style, but hey — free resources have to be a good thing, right? Especially in light of what one woman from the mobile D-management company WellDoc said in her presentation Thursday: "The way we're currently trying to educate people new to diabetes... is like trying to teach people to become fluent in a foreign language in four doctors' visits per year."

- dLife's new Learning Network -

dLife is planning the launch of a new online webinar series with renown CDE and author Janis Roszler and other top diabetes educators and experts.  Each will lead small group seminars on a variety of diabetes topics, not unlike Type 1 University launched independently last fall by another renown CDE and author, Gary Scheiner.

The dLife interface on display at AADE, developed by an online learning company called LiveMind, was very snazzy indeed. It even features audience audio interaction, in addition to the usual ability to type responses and questions during a session.

Each seminar will take place once a week or more, depending on the presenter's preference, and participation will be limited to 10 to 15 people, to keep the classes intimate and give all students equal attention, dLife says.

Looking for more support than education? Janis Roszler, who along with being a CDE is also a marriage and family therapist, will be running four virtual support groups (gender-specific and type of diabetes-specific) for people who can't get to a group locally. Initially the sessions will be free, but later on, a "reasonable fee" will probably be charged, the folks at dLife say. They weren't providing a specific launch date, but hinted we can expect to see these sessions live within the next few months. We'll keep you posted!

 
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This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.