More than half the diabetic patients of Phillips County Health Systems in Phillipsburg, Kansas participated in a program providing diabetic support and education.
In 2015, the first year of the program, 90 patients with chronic diabetic issues were referred to the Phillips County clinic. Of that number, 60 agreed to start the program. Nationally, on average just one-in-seven persons referred to diabetic programs are willing to participate.
The program started with the focus on patients who need intermediate diabetic care. “They were using hospital services frequently for diabetic-related concerns, and we wanted to shift them to routine visits for diabetic care, rather than emergency visits or intermediate needs,” said Jessica Hawkins, Infection Control Nurse and Diabetic Educator at Phillips County Health System.
The clinic’s diabetes education program, Healthy Grams and Strides Support Group, focuses on the seven American Association of Diabetic Educators’ requirements, with additional services such as medication and resource assistance and dietary counseling.
During the time the program has been offered, 22 of the patients participating had an average baseline of 10.22 A1c levels when they started the program. A1c levels are results of a hemoglobin test which shows how well blood sugar levels are controlled. Normal A1c levels are below 5.7 percent; A1c levels of 8 or above are considered to be not under control. After their first year in the program, those 22 patients had successfully lowered their A1c levels to an average of 7.4.
Phillips County Health Systems, located in north central Kansas, is a rural clinic that offers total family health care from infants to geriatrics. The diabetes education program includes 10 hours of education for the first year, usually delivered in eight sessions, and then two sessions each year after that for as long as the patient needs it. There are currently 45 patients in the on-going program.
The clinic’s emphasis on diabetes education aligns with their participation in the Kansas Healthcare Collaborative (KHC) Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative. KHC gives clinicians across Kansas hands-on support, coaching, education and technical assistance as part of the CMS Innovation Center Program. Each participating clinic is assigned a quality improvement advisor, who works with the staff to identify areas for improvement and selection of quality performance measures. The Phillips County clinic chose to concentrate on improving A1c levels in their diabetic population.
Josh Mosier, KHC Quality Improvement Advisor, works with the Phillips County clinic, helping them track the data. He was amazed by the impact these efforts are having on patient health. “As part of their participation in KHC’s Transforming Clinical Practices Initiative, the clinic’s data for diabetic patients shows great improvement in a relatively short span. Those who receive care from Phillips County Health Systems will likely continue to make great strides under this program.”