The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) held their 41st annual meeting from August 6-9. Having recently attended the Friends for Life conference, the Glu team returned to Orlando to connect with certified diabetes educators (CDEs) and attend sessions to learn the latest in new information, programs, and advice being shared.
AADE was founded in 1973, and currently has more than 14,000 members, comprised of nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, and others who specialize in diabetes care. AADE serves as an advocate for diabetes educators and the patients they assist, and offers educational and research opportunities, with a foundation that provides grants for research.
A nonprofit organization, AADE is largely supported with money coming from its annual meeting, educational programs, publications, membership fees, and to a lesser extent, sponsorship and royalties. With its wide-ranging programs and resources, AADE is positioned to be a strong advocate for the needs of people with diabetes. While it generally addresses issues on a national level, the organization encourages volunteers to get involved on a local level and make use of their networking platform to access news and resources and connect with other diabetes educators to collaborate on projects.
Immersed in Engaging Conversations
Sitting in the massive audience of 2,500+ attendees for each daily general session featuring AADE leaders and keynote speakers, we learned about the accomplishments of their program and the concerns of diabetes educators, chief among them, health care reform, which was a central theme throughout the five-day conference.
Wednesday’s keynote speaker, Dr. Jonathan Oberlander, professor and vice chair of Social Medicine and Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, gave a history of healthcare policy in the U.S. and presented stats about the current state of the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and addressed the variety of scenarios the country faces in the midst the issues that curtail full implementation of incentive programs. One of the biggest challenges in healthcare reform was the general confusion about the law. We have to face the realities of the economics of healthcare, he noted. Even though pre-existing conditions cannot be denied care under the ACA, there are many challenges in the current system. Improvements in standards of care have priced many people out of treatment. In 2012, the country spent $2.8 trillion on healthcare, accounting for 17.2% of the GDP. The author of several books and articles about healthcare history and policy, Dr. Oberlander’s thoughtful presentation gave insight into the impact the ACA has had already, and the challenges yet to come.
Later, a panel of experts talked about the opportunities and obstacles of the ACA, with leaders from the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Pharmacy Cooperative participating in a panel discussion. The key takeaway was that everyone—from healthcare professionals to patients—should do their best to stay well-informed about changes, and advocate for models of care that improve outcomes, provide reliable data so the system can evolve effectively, and help areas that have shortages of staff (a shortage of endocrinologists being a concern for many), supplies, and other resources.
The acceleration of technology, telemedicine, and apps and devices are going to be essential to the future of the healthcare industry. Nearly all sessions at the conference covered how technology is used in a variety of aspects of care, from peer-to-peer support on social media (a topic we’ll cover soon!), tips for diabetes management and educating co-workers, teaching staff in schools, and others, and understanding what resources are available.
There was a lot of discussion about changes in regard to how diabetes is being studied, and in several presentations, our own data from T1D Exchange was used to show how important it is to gather as much information as possible to look at patients holistically. Panelists talked extensively about the overall state of emotional well-being’s connection to better quality of life and improved A1c numbers. As the results of studies suggested, in the course of the pressure of managing numbers, the self can be lost, and it’s bringing everything together—hearing what you have to say—that will help improve care.
The role of diabetes educators in improving the day-to-day lives of those they care for and how they help lower costs through prevention cannot be understated. They are a valued part of healthcare teams for many people, and AADE sought to get as much feedback as they could from the CDEs. In their annual business meeting, they opened the floor to CDEs, many of whom had diabetes themselves, talked about their successes, what inspired them, and what difficulties they faced when overwhelmed by workloads and cuts from hospital budgets.
Meanwhile, at the Glu Booth…
We saw many familiar faces while tending our booth in the exhibition hall. We were visited by Glu ambassadors, people we knew from camps, and friends from nonprofits and companies alike. While attendance at the conference was lower than usual, there was a lot of excitement about opportunities to work together and make changes where and when we can. It was heartening to have so many open conversations, and we’d love to get your input as well. What role do certified diabetes educators play in your life? What do you want them to know? How would you like to see things change in diabetes care in the future?