Diabetes care and education specialists across the country convened in Houston, TX last week for the American Association of Diabetes Educators  (AADE) annual meeting.

Notice, we avoided using the designation of diabetes educators.

During the meeting, AADE announced the new name for its members, “diabetes care and education specialists” or DCES for short. As Karen Kemmis, PT, DPT, RN, MS, GCS, CDE, CEEAA, FAADE, president of AADE, said, “diabetes education does not comprehensively capture what we do. In fact, within the healthcare environment, it sells us short and misrepresents what we have to offer systems, people with diabetes, providers and the entire care team.” The designation of  diabetes care and education specialists is designed to better reflect the role of educators and is just one step in articulating the value as the “the cornerstone of the diabetes care team.”

In addition to the announcement of the new name, a significant portion of the meeting this year was geared towards how members should communicate their value to providers, administration, and people with diabetes. So often diabetes education departments are on the chopping block as budgets tighten. While there is no debate about the significant role they play to help people with diabetes meet target ranges, improve hemoglobin A1c, and implement behavioral changes, outcome measures and data are needed to sustain diabetes programs.

For hospitals, the largest portion of revenue is generated in the first 24 to 48 hours. After that, there are additional costs and diminishing return. As noted during the session, “Articulating Your Program’s Value in Evolving Models of Care,” diabetes programs help prevent extended stays and readmissions, which translates to real dollars for hospitals under new models of care.

As more hospitals enter value-based purchasing, shared risk and various population health arrangements, understanding these business models and quantifying time and risk will help clearly show the value. In the poster, “Measuring the Return on Investment for Inpatient Glycemic Management”, Monarch Clinical Specialist, Cathy Jaynes, PhD, RN, outlines the strategy and outcomes to  help make the case for optimized inpatient diabetes care.

With a focus on outcomes, new program and process improvements were also a large focus of this year’s meeting. From discharge strategies to handling nutrition and on-demand food delivery, organizations are finding better ways to manage care. During the meeting, we heard about hospitals implementing tablet video education at the bedside, “med to bed” programs that provide medication and pharmacy instruction in a patient’s room before discharge, and alerts and tactics to prevent nurses from holding the basal insulin when it should be given, among many other successful initiatives.

While some areas of improvement are easy to identify, others may not be as noticeable, especially with clinical inertia. To help identify areas that would benefit from process improvements and new innovative programs, Senior Clinical Specialist, Chris Santry, MSN, MBA, RN shared a poster, “Mind the Gap: Utilizing a Gap Analysis to Facilitate Inpatient Glycemic Management Performance Improvement,” which outlines the steps to undergo an assessment of the current state of glycemic management and identify improvement opportunities, so more hospitals bring forth new successful initiatives.

Complementing the innovative programs and procedures at this year’s meeting was also the implementation of new technology. Throughout the meeting, integrating technology into practice was a major theme. Digital therapeutics, education tools, and patient engagement applications were featured throughout to help improve the day to day management of diabetes for the patients and the providers.

eGlycemic management systems (eGMS) were one of the many technologies showcased as Carlos Mendez, MD, FACP, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director Diabetes Program at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Zablocki VA Medical Center and Monarch Executive VP and Chief Clinical Officer Laurel Fuqua, RN, MSN shared a poster that highlighted the  types of eGMS solutions, differentiations of various solutions, and key factors to consider when moving from paper protocols to automated insulin dosing solutions.

Overall, with four full days packed with poster presentations and education sessions, AADE19 once again brought new perspectives on diabetes care, opened the discussion on new tools and topics, and left attendees excited for the future. As Kemmis emphasized, with the evolving diabetes care practices and technology, diabetes care and education specialists are well positioned to be bold advocates for change within healthcare systems, and through our conversations with many EndoTool® clients as well as the new connections made at the meeting, we can certainly attest that is true.