New “One Stop Shop” Approach for Treating Diabetes

A new “one stop shop” approach to tackling diabetes could cut costs and improve diabetes care by having all the patient’s needs under one roof.  The idea is being tried inWest Palm Beach,Florida, and places more emphasis on the role of the nurses who manage the clinic.

Diabetics have to spend a fair amount of time visiting their doctor and outpatient clinics, often going to several different venues for various aspects of their treatment.  With diabetes a growing problem in theUSand in the west generally, the disease is costing the nation a lot of money – around $174 million in total to treat the 26 million diabetics in the country.  Moreover, more problems arise when patients fail to stick with their regime, making their symptoms worse because their condition is not being properly addressed.

However, the FAU Clinic inWest Palm Beachis leading the way in a new way of caring for diabetics, with patients being able to receive almost all their medical care at one venue.  Doctors, nurses, dieticians, diabetes educators, and pharmacists are all based at the clinic, with podiatrists and optometrists, the two specialists diabetics also need to see are nearby.  The clinic is one of only three inFloridarun by its nurses, who spend hours with each patient as well as running the center.  They work with the patient to manage symptoms and prevent his condition getting worse, coach him and monitor his progress. In addition, the nurses do not confine their work to treating patients – they meet with patients’ families to educate them about healthier diet and exercise to ensure they get support at home.

The center takes advantage of the Florida medical system, which allows nurses to diagnose and treat patients and even write prescriptions, and of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, supported by the President, which put $15 million into nurse-managed centers.  Some 250 of these now exist in theUS, yet theWest Palm Beachcenter is the only one to be concerned with diabetes.

The clinic sees 800 patients a year, regardless of their ability to pay, and gives them multi-faceted care including standard blood sugar monitoring and medications.  However, perhaps as importantly, patients are also given education, support, and coaching.  Seeing all their medical practitioners under one roof and developing a relationship with nurses they see regularly encourages patients to keep appointments and stick with the program.

Having the nurses manage the center means they can provide medical care while also ensuring smooth running of appointments, with no overlapping of booked in patients.  They can weigh a patient, provide advice on diet, and even encourage his family to help by supporting his healthier diet habits.

Moreover, the center also keeps costs down, partly by helping patients more effectively to avoid the serious complications of diabetes, but also because of the enlarged role of the nurses, who cost less to employ than doctors do.  With half of all Americans expected to be diagnosed with diabetes in the next decade, keeping costs down is of vital importance.

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