Inspired by The Barbara Davis Center to Improve Diabetes Care

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On November 8th and 9th, 2017, the T1D Exchange held a Quality Improvement Learning Session in Aurora, Colorado. We chose to meet in Aurora because our 10 clinical sites within the Quality Improvement Initiative wanted to tour the Barbara Davis Center and learn from a peer clinic; The Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes is part of the University of Colorado Medical Center and is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.

Each team of the Quality Improvement Initiative brings a mix of team members; a team often is composed of some combination of a patient or parent representative, an endocrinologist, a certified diabetes educator (CDE), a site coordinator or research assistant/administrator, and a Quality Improvement Specialist. Each team-member comes to the project with a slightly different lens of experience, so it was fascinating to tour the diabetes clinic with such a multidisciplinary crowd. Office managers might notice the clinic layout and how the walls are decorated, a CDE might notice the bookshelves filled with Pink Panther-themed books that introduce families to diabetes care, and a parent rep might notice the atmosphere of the waiting room.

Personally, what struck me was how joyful the clinic was. As a patient in adult diabetes care, I normally wouldn’t think to put “joyful” and “clinic” in the same sentence. At Barbara Davis Center, however, the rooms were covered in colorful murals, and giant Pink Panthers were sprinkled throughout the halls and waiting areas. The ambiance was uplifting.

But perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the Barbara Davis Center team was how committed they were to continually improving. Their clinic might be light years ahead of others across the U.S., but their team still wanted constructive feedback from the touring group about their clinic flow. They were transparent about their clinic processes and looked to the group to hear about better ways of delivering care. I admired their drive to continually seek improvement, and their attitude reminded me why I love the field of Quality Improvement. Many members of our teams left feeling energized and eager to implement new strategies they picked up from the Barbara Davis Center.

As a patient with type 1 diabetes, we know there’s no cure to the condition around the corner, but we can demand that our clinics be staffed with eager providers who understand the importance of Quality Improvement and who strive to deliver care better for their patients.

Thank you to all the clinic teams who participated in this meeting and special thanks to the Barbara Davis Team for the tour, their hard work, and unwavering dedication. Specials thanks to Dr. Alonso, Dr. Majidi, and Sarah Thomas.

-Alyssa Cabrera

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