Prioritize Patient Experience in Diabetes Care

A new position statement from the Endocrine Society aims to help clinicians prioritize patient experiences in the management of diabetes to optimize outcomes.

The statement reflects consensus from two virtual roundtables held in 2022, with participation from representatives of the American Diabetes Association, the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Physicians, the Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.

“Although we’ve had many new classes of medications and many new technologies introduced into the care of people with diabetes over the past decade, there continues to be significant gaps between what our clinical guidelines recommend needs to be done in order to attain optimal health outcomes and what is actually able to be implemented in practice,” writing panel chair Rita R. Kalyani, MD, told Medscape Medical News.

The roundtable discussions addressed existing gaps in diabetes care and available tools to support patient-centered care in practice, focusing on the importance of acknowledging the experience of the person living with diabetes, said Kalyani, who is professor of medicine, the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, & Metabolism, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. “What is most important to them? What are the challenges they have in their day-to-day life, and what is being communicated or understood?”

The statement is targeted at all individuals involved in the care of people with diabetes, including endocrinologists, primary care providers, other specialists such as cardiologists and nephrologists, as well as pharmacists, educators, and nutritionists, she noted.

Asked to comment, David T. Ahn, MD, chief of diabetes services at Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag, Newport Beach, California, said “the statement importantly emphasizes that optimally supporting a person with diabetes is about the entire patient experience and not simply their glycemic performance. People with diabetes are truly the biggest stakeholders in diabetes management, and their perspectives should matter.”

Published on February 21, 2024, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the statement covers the following topics in separate sections:

  • The importance of effective patient-provider communication at the time of diagnosis and at every clinic visit
  • Addressing emotional and psychosocial needs, including helping people through diabetes distress or “burnout”
  • Referring patients for diabetes self-management education and support
  • Navigating available therapeutic options and explaining complex regimens to patients
  • Minimizing therapeutic and clinical inertia
  • Reducing cardiovascular, kidney, and other complication risks, including with the use of newer medications
  • Discussing strategies to minimize hypoglycemia when relevant
  • Using telehealth when appropriate
  • Integrating diabetes technologies into routine diabetes management

Each section begins with an illustrative clinical patient vignette. For example, one describes a 42-year-old man with type 2 diabetes on basal insulin who experienced hyperglycemia during illness. His provider advises him to dramatically increase his insulin dose, but he doesn’t because he remembers his father had a severe hypoglycemia episode when he did that. The man ends up hospitalized with dehydration and renal failure.

In another, a doctor hesitates to share test results with a patient during a telehealth visit because family members are in the room. During the same visit, the patient is unable to show the doctor her swollen foot because “If I move from this spot, the internet connection will be lost.”

Ahn commented, “I like the structure of the statement because the case-based format should help clinicians better identify potential blind spots in their own practice, as sometimes it can be easy to assume that we are immune to these potential pitfalls. I found the vignettes to be very realistic, and the discussions around them were extremely detailed, with many practical suggestions for improvement.”

Also scattered through the document are graphics to help visualize the content. Tables include a list of common psychosocial conditions in diabetes, a list of questions to ask people to help determine if they need additional psychosocial screening or resources, and questionnaires to assess an individual’s risk for hypoglycemia and the appropriateness of telehealth.

However, Ahn also noted, “I agree with all the major recommendations from the statement. Unfortunately, as the authors point out, practically implementing all the recommendations in this article may not be feasible in a traditional busy clinic, especially for primary care providers managing juggling multiple acute and chronic conditions…The biggest challenge is being able to have the time and resources to actually implement these suggestions.”

Kalyani said, “tools to support patient-centered care cannot be burdensome for people with diabetes or the healthcare provider who already has limited time in order to be effective. They have to meet the ever-changing demands of new medications, new recommendations, and new technologies. New tools and resources will continue to need to be developed in the future.”

The position statement is a summary of discussions that occurred during two consensus roundtables in 2022 that were supported by educational grants to the Endocrine Society from Abbott, Medtronic, Novo Nordisk, and Vertex. However, this position statement was developed by the authors independently. Kalyani had no disclosures. Ahn consults for Lilly Diabetes and Ascensia Diabetes Care and is on the speakers bureau for Abbott, Ascensia, Insulet, Lilly, Mannkind, Novo, and Xeris.

Miriam E. Tucker is a freelance journalist based in the Washington DC area. She is a regular contributor to Medscape, with other work appearing in the Washington Post, NPR’s Shots blog, and Diatribe. She is on X (formerly Twitter) @MiriamETucker.

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Publish date : 2024-02-21 14:00:00

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