SAN DIEGO — Health care delivery in the United States is at an inflection point, and diabetes educators have a role to play in the transformation, according to a speaker here.
Health care spending is growing at an unsustainable rate, said Evan Benjamin, MD, FACP, senior vice president for quality at Baystate Health Inc., and while U.S. costs are the highest in the world, life expectancy is comparable to that of Chile, while quality of care does not improve.
“The current system is just not sustainable,” said Benjamin, speaking at the American Association of Diabetes Educators annual meeting. “We need to get to a new normal … that focuses on improving the value of heath care and improving the patient experience. To do this, we have to focus on value … and remove unnecessary treatments. We have to focus this redesign on outcomes that are important.”
The care model also needs to evolve, Benjamin said, to reach the goal of true, coordinated care, and diabetes educators play an important role. He outlined a “to do list” for CDEs, that includes local advocacy, changing the narrative, embracing innovation and having hope.
“We need you to help transform health care and advocate for change,” Benjamin said. “As I leave you with this to do list, there are specific tasks for you to … improve the health care system.”
Local advocacy, Benjamin said, includes finding the designers of health care delivery in a community and advocating for better services. The narrative has changed, he said, through shared decision making. Innovation can be embraced, he said, through new technologies, like using telemedicine to provide comprehensive diabetes education to underserved rural areas in need.
“This really is a time to have hope, a time I see great opportunity for creating a better health system,” Benjamin said. “One that is better for providers, like diabetes educators, to really take advantage of their skills to manage populations, and one that will be better for our patients.”
The move away from the fee-for-service model, Benjamin said, provides a new era of opportunities for diabetes educators. As the payment model evolves to one where “we’re responsible for the health of the population,” the role of the diabetes educator is going to expand and evolve, he said.
“Diabetes educators will be a part of the new delivery models, and new roles, and thinking much more broadly about health care and health,” Benjamin said. – by Regina Schaffer
Benjamin E. GS01. Diabetes Management and Education in the Era of Health Care Transformation: An Optimist’s View. Presented at: American Association of Diabetes Educators; Aug. 12-15, 2016; San Diego.
Disclosure: Benjamin reports no relevant financial disclosures.