Educating Providers

Doctor Prescribes Medicine and Shakes Hands

Educating referring providers on the value of DSMES can help increase referrals to these services. Providers need to understand the benefits of DSMES and consider DSMES referral as a critical component of the treatment plan. To help build the referral relationship, organizations delivering DSMES services may consider marketing their services and results, including an annual summary of programmatic and clinical outcomes. For more information on marketing DSMES services, please click here.

Below are tips for increasing referrals through provider education:

Ensure that referring providers understand the rationale for post-diagnosis referrals.16

  • A diabetes diagnosis can be “positive,” as it enables action.
  • It is unrealistic to expect people with diabetes to make lifestyle changes without access to services and support.
  • Additional support helps people with diabetes stay motivated and can keep them from reverting to old habits.

Help providers have more effective conversations with people with diabetes.

  • Referring providers may be the ones to tell newly diagnosed people with diabetes that they have diabetes. Providers should explain the basics:
    • Causes of diabetes
    • Possible complications
    • Treatment options
    • Nutrition education
    • Blood glucose monitoring
  • It is important that providers understand that language matters in the delivery of diabetes care and education. ADA and ADCES have jointly developed guidelines for communicating with people with diabetes. Encourage providers to read “The Use of Language in Diabetes Care and Education” and/or provide them with this handout on “Speaking the Language of Diabetes: Language Guidance for Diabetes-Related Research, Education and Publications [PDF – 7 MB].”
  • Referring providers should give people with diabetes the time and opportunity to ask questions.
  • The Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists (ADCES) recommends that providers tell people with diabetes six things upon diabetes diagnosis (click here for full resource [PDF – 163 KB]):
    • It’s not the person with diabetes’ fault—diabetes can be caused by many factors.
    • There is no need for panic—there are ways to reduce the risk of complications.
    • The person with diabetes does not need special foods—people with diabetes should eat the same way everyone should eat. That means controlling carbohydrates, portion sizes, and fat and salt intake but also enjoying the occasional sweet treat.
    • Being active helps—the person with diabetes should think of ways to be more active.
    • Learning to master diabetes is critical—it can help to see a diabetes educator.
    • The person with diabetes is not alone—though a diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming, the referring provider and other health care providers are there to help.
  • Referring providers should let people with diabetes know about the option of referral to a DSMES service, indicating that DSMES services are one of the tools that can help them be successful in managing the disease. It is helpful to encourage DSMES participation and let people with diabetes know that others who have attended DSMES services have successfully managed their diabetes.

The following tools can help diabetes educators talk with providers about the benefits of DSMES:

Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists: Tips for Reaching Prescribers:
This educational tool helps educators convey to providers the value of diabetes education.

Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialists: Why Refer for Diabetes Education:
This resource provides reasons to make a referral as well as a link to a referral form.

Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) Technical Assistance Guide:
Developed by the CDC, this tool is designed to assist state health departments and their partners in planning and implementing activities to increase use DSMES programs, focusing on access, health care provider referrals, and reimbursement. This tool identifies four key drivers that influence DSMES access: 1) availability of DSMES services, 2) payers and payment mechanisms, 3) referral policies and practices and 4) people with diabetes being willing to participate in DSMES services.

The following are additional resources for primary care providers:

National Diabetes Education Service Practice Transformation:
This resource is designed to help physicians, health professionals, and healthcare administrators understand how redesigning diabetes care delivery can benefit their practices and learn ways to coordinate with the team to improve care.

American Diabetes Association’s Clinical Practice Recommendations:
The 2018 Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes includes all of ADA’s current clinical practice recommendations, and is intended to provide clinicians, patients, researchers, payers, and others with information on the components of diabetes care, general treatment goals, and tools to evaluate the quality of care.

American Diabetes Association’s Tools, Resources, and Education for Providers:
These resources can be used to help practices provide quality care and improve patient outcomes.

American Diabetes Association’s Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2018 Abridged for Primary Care Providers [PDF – 892 KB]:
This is an abridged version of the Standards containing the evidence based recommendations most pertinent for primary care.

Working Together to Manage Diabetes: A Toolkit for Pharmacy, Podiatry, Optometry, and Dentistry ( [PDF – 1,144KB]:
This toolkit for other providers (pharmacists, podiatrists, optometrists, dentists, etc.) shows providers how they can work collaboratively with each other as well as with all other members of the healthcare team (such as primary healthcare providers, physician assistants, nurse educators, and community health workers) to promote better outcomes in people with diabetes.