Referring Patients to DSMES

Key points

  • Diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) improves health outcomes for your patients with diabetes.
  • Your patients will learn how to manage their blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure, along with other key self-management habits.
  • Find out when and why to refer your patients with diabetes.
healthcare professional talking to patient


Referring patients to DSMES improves health outcomes and can help you meet follow-up care guidelines. Your patients will work with a certified diabetes care and education specialist. This licensed health care professional will provide training, counseling, and follow-up activities for your patients that support your plan of care.

Increase Access to DSMES‎

DSMES is highly effective in improving health and diabetes management skills, but less than 7% of eligible patients participate within the first year of diagnosis. Health care providers like you are the best way to increase DSMES access.

Why refer patients to DSMES services?

DSMES can help:

  • Improve hemoglobin A1C.
  • Prevent or delay diabetes complications.
  • Increase the likelihood of patients getting preventive health care.
  • Reduce acute care and hospitalizations.
  • Improve healthy coping, confidence in self-care behaviors, and quality of life.

When to refer patients:

  • When they are diagnosed with diabetes.
  • During health care appointments.
  • When new health complications arise.
  • When other life changes occur that make diabetes management harder.
Keep Reading: Referral Process

Referring patients

When you refer patients for DSMES services, let them know that people who have the knowledge, skills, and support to manage their diabetes effectively are often healthier than those who don’t. DSMES will help them:

  • Improve their blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C levels.
  • Keep their blood pressure on target.
  • Better manage their cholesterol.
  • Save money on diabetes supplies.

Insurance coverage

Insurance coverage of DSMES varies, but many plans cover it. Medicare covers up to 10 hours of diabetes education for people diagnosed in the past year. After the first year, coverage may change. Note that Medicare refers to DSMES as diabetes self-management training (DSMT).

Additional DSMES resources

For providers

For patients

  • Education and Support Information – Send patients this patient-friendly information on how DSMES services help people with diabetes learn how to take the best care of themselves.