Caring for patients with diabetes: a perspective from a certified diabetes educator

Editor’s note: this post was written by Penny Mach, a certified diabetes educator with Welkin

Welkin Health provides patients a great opportunity to manage their diabetes using their smartphones. This is an exciting opportunity for patients with diabetes, and also for their healthcare providers and certified diabetes educators (CDE). This format makes it much easier for the patient to connect with a CDE and obtain the support and resources they need to reach their goals.

With a push of a button they have access to their educator. This less formal approach than a face to face outpatient appointment allows the patient to feels more at ease with being in their own environment and within their own structure to communicate with their CDE. It’s great that I can reach out to my patients daily to check in on them. This relationship leads to a conversation about how their daily emotions, food choices, and environmental stressors impact their success. They can easily upload a picture of their meal and blood sugar showing me examples of their food choices and medical information which is useful in providing the teachable moment that will have great impact on later goals. It’s in those a-ha moments that the patient experiences great empowerment, recognizing how their choice led to success or not and what they can do differently next time. Because next time, is tomorrow, they get an immediate conditioned response of being successful and understanding that their small decisions make a big difference in their diabetes care.

By using Welkin, the “no-show” appointments are eliminated. Time is saved both for the patient and the provider. The patient does not have to commute to meet with me so geographical barriers and environmental stressors are not an issue. They do not have to prepare for an appointment because they can easily check in with me wherever they are and keep track of their information on their smartphone. We discuss what is going on that day and review their blood glucose trends they have been posting. The patient has access to healthcare services at their fingertips. This resource allows them expediency and immediate information to get the necessary data that can help them. If they have a setback or success or just want to check in, they can connect anytime by sending me a quick message. This works great with busy lifestyles.

Brief, frequent, and personalized contact with the patient helps to establish trust. Patients don’t resist connecting due to the impact or length of the time constraints and demands of diabetes care.  When I sense there is a disconnect with their lifestyle choices, diabetes care and possible extenuating circumstances getting in the way of success, I set up a phone call session with them. This brief phone consult allows me the opportunity to reconnect with them, giving the assurance that I care about them and want to check in. I am also able to ask them questions that will result in deeper clarification or concern. This is especially helpful in the beginning of the relationship. It helps to remove the anxiety of having diabetes.

A person with diabetes needs to make numerous decisions on a daily basis regarding their food, establishing good habits about checking their blood glucose, staying physically active and  taking medication. These choices and habits can be overwhelming and it’s easy for them to feel despair when they have a setback or unexpected event gets in the way. Welkin’s diabetes care is an excellent resource. If they get derailed; They know they can easily and quickly get back on track by reconnecting with their CDE at a push of a button rather then the tedious task of setting up appointments, waiting for the scheduled date and then driving to the office. Patients feel as if they have a partner or coach rooting for them and wanting them to be successful.

Success with diabetes is demonstrated in a variety of ways.  A recent example is a patient of mine whom I have been helping for about 5 months. She lowered her A1C from 8.1 to 6.1 and lost 11 pounds. She is posting her blood sugars every day and also 1-2 meals. Her increased knowledge, change of habits and self -esteem in the area of diabetes has driven her success. She flourishes in this setting where she has failed previously because of the relationship with me, the ease of use, access to resources, reduction of time constraints, and consistency of service. It is an exciting to be able to provide solid, researched based care in an effective and consistent way.
Welkin has provided a great opportunity for CDEs and patients to take advantage of this great program with a challenging diagnosis. Instead of medical doctors forcing patients to handle diabetes management on their own in the midst of their day, Welkin CDE’s are meeting the patients where they are! It’s a win-win!