When trying to ward off the onset of Type 2 diabetes, nothing is more effective for a patient than entering and actively participating in a diabetes prevention program.
That was one message of Diabetes Done Differently, a CME program for MSSC members and others presented April 4 by Dr. Justin Moore and Becky Tuttle of Health ICT, whose mission includes diabetes prevention.
The program, attended by about four dozen at the Hyatt Wichita, was the first time CME credit was granted directly by the MSSC under certification approved last year.
The diabetes program kicked off with quick run-through on the mission of Health ICT, the CDC-funded and MSSC-sponsored program to prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.
Dr. Moore, an endocrinologist and Health ICT’s medical consultant, then set out the stakes involved with diabetes:
- 1 million Americans have diabetes, about 11 percent of adults.
- 86 million Americans are prediabetic, and only 11 percent – 1 in 9 – with prediabetes know they have it.
- One-sixth of all medical expenses can be traced to diabetes.
“Type 2 diabetes is an acknowledgment of retinopathy risk,” Dr. Moore said. “As blood sugars start to rise, you see that the future holds for these people, and you have a sense of impending doom.”
Research shows that diabetes screening alone will not save lives, but it can trigger interventions. The good news, Dr. Moore said, is that “if patients know they could have diabetes, they’re twice as likely to take action” to improve their lifestyle by increasing physical activity, losing weight and eating better. Sharing a personal story, he told how five years ago he was classified prediabetic – oh, “the irony” – and lost 25 pounds and the designation.
Studies have found that prevention programs are cost effective, with the savings in health care costs over time offsetting that of screening and the programs. In Wichita, the YMCA operates the only CDC-certified program, although two other groups are working to add programs, said Tuttle, Health ICT program manager. The goal of the programs is for participants to lose 7 percent of their weight and obtain 150 minutes or more of physical activity weekly.
The 12-month program includes a four-month core phase where participants meet with trained lifestyle coaches in a support group format and focus on getting active, eating well and tracking food consumption, shopping and cooking strategies, coping with triggers, and eating well away from home. “People don’t want it to end,” Tuttle said of this phase. “They like the support.”
Next is an eight-month maintenance phase, where participants build on what they learned. One barrier is cost, which runs more than $400. The YMCA provides discounts based on income, and Health ICT is providing scholarships for patients of partner clinics.
Another barrier takes place in doctors’ busy offices, which must weigh the consideration of how to cover the cost of determining eligible patients and then referring them, Dr. Moore said.
Thankfully, he said, those costs are increasingly covered. This year, the CMS instituted MIPS and APM payment models, and next year CMS is adding a CPT code for community-based groups and non-licensed providers.
Dr. Moore urged providers to set up ways to find prediabetic patients in their practices. And, he said, physicians should realize how influential they can be in getting patients into programs that can help them change their habits. “Your words have power,” he said.
LEARN MORE: For info on the Y’s prevention program, contact Lianna Fry at email@example.com or 316-219-9622, ext. 5578