Diabetes

5 steps to help patients prevent diabetes

In the average primary care practice, about one-third of patients over age 18—and half over age 65—could have prediabetes, which can progress to type 2 diabetes. Early and intensive lifestyle intervention can prevent or delay diabetes in at-risk patients. Physicians can use a free online module to learn about five steps that can help patients prevent type 2 diabetes.  

Part of AMA STEPS Forward™—an open-access platform featuring more than 50 modules that offer actionable, expert-driven strategies and insights supported by practical resources and tools—the CME module includes practical strategies and tools that you can implement immediately.  

The AMA’s Diabetes Prevention Guide supports physicians and health care organizations in defining and implementing evidence-based diabetes prevention strategies. This comprehensive and customized approach helps clinical practices and health care organizations identify patients with prediabetes and manage the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including referring patients at risk to a National Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle-change program based on their individual needs. 

Now, here are five steps your practice can follow to help treat prediabetes and prevent type 2 diabetes in your patients.  

Create awareness. Nine in 10 people with prediabetes don’t know they have it. Create awareness of this condition in your practice by hanging educational posters and distributing informational handouts in exam rooms and waiting areas. These materials are available for download in the module. 

Identify patients with prediabetes. The most common blood tests used to identify patients with prediabetes include a fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1C. Get the appropriate blood levels, and ICD and CPT® codes for prediabetes and diabetes screening in the module.  

You can prospectively identify patients with prediabetes by having them complete a risk assessment before their visit and arranging for pre-visit lab testing. You can also retrospectively identify patients by setting up a query in your electronic health record. Find information on both methods in the module. 

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Educate patients at risk for diabetes. Now that you’ve identified these folks, give them the education they need. The module includes the four key messages your patients with prediabetes should know. It also includes suggested approaches for talking with patients about their prediabetes. 

Refer patients to an evidence-based diabetes prevention program. If the patient is interested and ready to make healthy lifestyle changes, then refer him or her to an in-person National DPP lifestyle-change program. The module includes three ways to find such programs. It also includes information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention registry to help physicians refer patients to diabetes prevention programs in their communities and online. 

Follow up on weight-loss progress. Plan a three- or six-month follow-up with patients to assess their progress toward their weight loss goals and to address barriers to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. 

Based on best practices from the field, STEPS Forward modules empower practices to identify areas or opportunities for improvement, set meaningful and achievable goals, and implement transformative changes designed to increase operational efficiencies, elevate clinical team engagement, and improve patient care. 

Several modules have been developed from the generous grant funding of the federal Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative (TCPI), an effort designed to help clinicians achieve large-scale health transformation through TCPI’s Practice Transformation Networks.   

The AMA, in collaboration with TCPI, is providing technical assistance and peer-level support by way of STEPS Forward resources to enrolled practices. The AMA is also engaging the national physician community in health care transformation through network projects, change packages, success stories and training modules.