louisiana NEWS

March 27 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day: Participation in Diabetes Program Can Improve Health Outcomes for People with Medicare

March 27 is American Diabetes Association (ADA) Alert Day and Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network’s Everyone with Diabetes Counts (EDC) program is working with patients, healthcare providers and community organizations in Louisiana to raise awareness, share information about how to lower risk factors for getting diabetes, and help those who have diabetes learn to best manage their condition for a healthier life.
In the United States, approximately 30.3 million people - or 1 out of every 11 people - have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There is a diabetes prevalence of 27.1 percent for people aged 65 and over with Medicare in Louisiana, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) statistics from 2015. Diabetes is known as the most common cause of blindness, kidney failure, and amputations in adults and a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.        
“ADA Alert Day gives us an opportunity to reflect on the impact that diabetes has on the community and discuss how people can take action to make a real difference,” Natalie Tappe, Network Task Lead for Quality Insights’ EDC program, said. “The key message is that people can control their diabetes through lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and by following a care plan in consultation with their doctor.”
Quality Insights has been providing free diabetes self-management education classes through the EDC program to people with Medicare in Louisiana since 2015. Although EDC is now a national initiative of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), it was first piloted in a small number of states. 
The Journal of Health Promotion and Maintenance recently published a study of the program during its pilot phase in West Virginia. The study analyzed the impact of EDC on people with Medicare living in rural counties. Results indicated that those who completed the program had 29 percent fewer hospitalizations than those who had not completed the program. This resulted in an estimated savings of $35,900 per 100 program completers in the state. 
“There have been many studies on diabetes education,” Jill Manna, Director of Analytic Resources for Quality Insights and co-author of the study, said. “But most published research did not provide insights on the potential impact specifically among older people living in remote rural areas, and few have focused on specific cost drivers such as hospitalization on this population. As we continue to learn lessons about how best to recruit and educate people with Medicare to manage diabetes and document their participation in the program, this analysis presents encouraging early news.”
EDC is a community-based approach that encourages participation and provides a structure to support people with Medicare in their commitment to managing diabetes. Classes typically last six weeks. Participants learn about diabetes risks, nutrition, weight management, how to properly manage medications and much more. Past participants have reported weight loss, improvement of lab results and a decrease in medications. In Louisiana, EDC classes are typically held in places like senior centers, senior residences, community centers, health care facilities and churches. There is no cost to participate in the program.
In addition to offering free classes to the community, the program works with health care providers and community volunteers by training them to teach classes themselves. The program also engages community partners to support efforts by promoting classes within the community, donating meeting space, recruiting potential new trainers and much more.  
“Through the EDC program, we bring communities together to learn about, prevent and control diabetes,” Tappe said.  
To date, 1,025 people with Medicare and 371 others have graduated from EDC classes in Louisiana, creating a total of 1,396 graduates.
Learn more about the EDC program or view a list of currently scheduled classes. Contact Kym Herrin, State Lead for EDC in Louisiana, by calling (225) 248-7068 or emailing kherrin@eqhs.org for more information. For more information on American Diabetes Alert Day, visit www.diabetes.org