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Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge Finalist n4a Diabetes Care Center

Michele Polz introduces 2012 Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge finalist

Michele PolzMichele Polz

Gary PuckreinGary Puckrein

On July 16, 2012, we will announce the winner of the 2012 Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge. Today, I am pleased to introduce the n4a Diabetes Care Center, one of the two remaining teams competing to win this year’s Innovation Challenge. Gary Puckrein, the President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum, explains more about their concept.

n4a Diabetes Care Center is a collaboration of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and the National Minority Quality Forum. Its mission is to identify people living with diabetes who are under-consuming medical products and services and to help them better manage the disease and avoid preventable hospitalizations. The Center will aim to accomplish this objective through precision disease management – targeting those whose inadequate management of their disease places them at immediate risk for a health crisis that requires inpatient care or an emergency room visit.

If you’re a person living with diabetes, you’re probably already well aware that disease management is difficult, but people who don’t have the disease can be quick with giving advice. They might say that blood sugar management is simply about willpower – give up the foods you’ve enjoyed all your life, exercise at least an hour every day, stay on your medicines, attend diabetes education courses, monitor your blood glucose, visit your doctor, have your A1C test four times a year, etc. Yet it mustn’t be so simple; the American Diabetes Association notes that just 12% of people living with diabetes are fully compliant with its recommended standards of care.

Some people with diabetes may make all of the necessary life changes on their own. Others appreciate the seriousness of their condition and may want to reinvent themselves, but are faced with obstacles that stand in their way. They prioritize work over health, they have pressing family obligations, they do not have a supportive environment, they lack the transportation to visit their physician, or perhaps they just need the energy of a group to help make those difficult changes.

The United States is confronting a diabetes epidemic, and the numbers are troubling. At present, nearly 24 million people are living with this disease (some unknowingly) and that number may rise to 44 million by 2034. Currently, people with diabetes have over 14 million hospital encounters (inpatient and outpatient care) each year1. Many communities have no diabetes treatment center, hence people with diabetes must travel to facilities outside their communities at distances and hours that may not be convenient.

The Diabetes Care Center is an in-community program, designed to serve the needs of residents close to their homes. n4a and its vast network has been providing social services to seniors in every community throughout the US for over forty years, and now plans to use its knowledge and experience to help people with diabetes of all ages. Through working with the National Minority Quality Forum, The Diabetes Care Center will draw on algorithms that identify people with diabetes whose low consumption of medical products and services put them at immediate risk for a hospital encounter. From these algorithms, The Center will present patient profiles to physicians, encouraging them to recommend that high-risk patients enroll in a Diabetes Care Center in their neighborhood.

At the Diabetes Care Center, people will take part in an interview process to identify challenges that interfere with management of their blood sugar. The Center will design a personalized disease-management program for each patient to address his or her personal challenges, and will work with the patient to ensure commitment to the program and its implementation. Powered by the National Minority Quality Forum’s predictive tools, n4a will be in the community, close at hand, to provide the support, encouragement and infrastructure to reduce acute events, lower the cost of care and achieve better outcomes for those living with the disease.

About the Author

Gary Puckrein is the President and CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum.


1 US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project on hospitalizations (Nationwide Inpatient Sample, 2000 through 2008) and emergency-room visits (Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, 2006 through 2008) by adult patients with diabetes. Diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes prevalence based on data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

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