Diabetes prevention entered the spotlight in 2017

Sara Berg, MS , News Editor

More than 84 million Americans live with prediabetes and up to one-quarter end up developing type 2 diabetes within five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fortunately, the progression to diabetes can be prevented or delayed through participation in a lifestyle-change program recognized as part of the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).

Diabetes prevention programs (DPPs) are among the newly covered services included in the 2018 physician fee schedule, with an annual maximum payment per Medicare beneficiary of $670. Medicare DPP payment starts April 1. Before then, the AMA will be offering educational programs and releasing tools physicians can use to help their patients take advantage of this newly covered service.

To raise awareness and reverse prediabetes, many physicians and health care organizations took the next step toward developing DPPs. Here are five of the most popular and relevant diabetes prevention stories we covered in 2017.  

With no DPP in reach, a family medicine practice created its own. Dismayed by the scarcity of referral options and inspired to practice at the top of their abilities, the staff at an independent practice in suburban Detroit implemented their own DPP. The lead physician on the project shares the steps he took to set it up, as well as some successes evident in patients just two months into the program.

6 steps to starting your own diabetes prevention program. Members of the Western Wayne Physicians practice team share their advice for setting up your own DPP, including how to budget for, and staff, this new activity, as well as what to look for in your first group of participants.

High anxiety: Patient worries can hinder prediabetes screening. Early detection of prediabetes is critical to reversing the condition and preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes, yet many patients may avoid screening opportunities for fear of the results. In this behavior, known as “health-information avoidance,” patients often search for outcomes that better meet their needs or beliefs. Understanding when, why and how people avoid information can help physicians reach patients at risk for prediabetes without overwhelming them.

Physicians praise online diabetes prevention program: “Finally.” Care teams have been stymied for years in their attempts to get upstream of diabetes, in large part because of a lack of tools that work with patients’ lifestyles. Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare is conducting a one-year pilot of an online DPP that enables patients to participate when and where it is most convenient for them. Physicians are thrilled.

Is the patient at risk for diabetes? It’s a $100 billion question. A recent study of U.S. spending on more than 150 medical conditions found diabetes to be the top expense, far and away. Diabetes is preventable, and prediabetes is reversible, so there is a tremendous opportunity to cut costs by improving care. According to data on awareness of the risk of diabetes, one problem might be how little patients and physicians are talking with each other about this costly, dreadful disease. The overwhelming majority of people with prediabetes are unaware of it.

This year, the AMA, CDC and the Ad Council launched a public service announcement ad campaign to urge Americans to take the one-minute prediabetes risk test. The campaign highlights the importance of following up with a physician to learn more about prediabetes.

The AMA offers online CME to expand your knowledge in diabetes management. Explore educational content such as “Prevent Diabetes STAT.”