According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 22 percent of Americans ages 65 and older have diabetes.
Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) is an ongoing process that facilitates the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary for diabetes self-care. Empowering people with the knowledge and ability to self-manage their diabetes through DSME can significantly improve their quality of life and long-term health.
atom Alliance – the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) serving Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Mississippi and Tennessee – has implemented a high-touch, community-oriented approach to promote DSME in both rural and urban coverage areas, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program. Additionally, atom Alliance has identified community centers and locations at which beneficiaries frequently gather to enable ease of access to DSME programs.
“One of the ways we engage beneficiaries is by going to their health care providers,” said Anthony Culver, Communication Specialist at atom Alliance. “However, meeting people where they are, like in community centers, libraries and senior centers, is often the best way to reach them.”
With this in mind, atom Alliance partnered with Methodist Healthcare’s Congregational Health Network in Memphis, Tennessee to promote DSME programs through its wide-reaching network of more than 600 congregations across the state of Tennessee.
“When we launch DSME at a new church, 10 or 15 people might show up. But when we host the second week of class, all those people bring a friend.”
atom Alliance works directly with 10 of Methodist’s health liaisons that are connected to the broad-reaching network of church groups, to promote various health engagement and education programs to the faith-based communities.
atom Alliance has found faith-based communities to be particularly effective in spreading the word about its DSME classes. “When we launch DSME at a new church, 10 or 15 people might show up,” said Debra Bratton, Quality Improvement Advisor at atom Alliance. “But when we host the second week of class, all those people bring a friend.” Bratton says the smaller, more intimate communities enable people who have benefited from DSME to become ambassadors for the program.
In rural Mississippi, providers have had difficulty getting beneficiaries to return to classes week after week to finish DSME courses. Often, lack of retention is due to barriers involving transportation or literacy. Through high-touch methods, atom Alliance has helped improve retention and provide necessary information to beneficiaries who do not have access to resources to attend the classes.
“You kind of have to be a detective,” says Trannie Murphy of atom Alliance-Mississippi. Dropout rates in rural areas can be high due to lack of transportation, so Murphy says the QIN-QIO calls individuals to remind them not to miss class and ensure they have a way to get there. Murphy says they also try to fill absentees in on what they missed or visit them at home to ensure beneficiaries are getting access to useful information.
Through these high-touch methods, atom Alliance has trained 370 beneficiaries in the state of Mississippi since the EDC program began coordinating DSME classes in 2015. As a QIN-QIO, atom Alliance has successfully educated 2,231 DSME graduates and trained 116 DSME trainers across all five states.