In the city of Meridian, Miss., Information & Quality Healthcare (IQH), the Medicare Quality Improvement Organization for Mississippi, has worked to help reduce complications associated with diabetes, particularly within the African- American community.
In the U.S., 18.8 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, and some 7 million remain undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet.
The special year-long project, which began in October 2012, engaged 54 providers to refer eligible Medicare patients to diabetes self-management education (DSME) classes using tools provided by IQH. These tools include chart sticker reminders, monofilaments (for detecting neuropathy), and personal health records that encourage foot and eye exams for people with diabetes. The nurses recruited beneficiaries from the providers and from the community. Providers were given the names of their patients who completed the classes.
IQH nurses taught two-hour DSME classes for three to four weeks depending on various factors including literacy levels and size of classes. Classes were held in different settings across Meridian, from senior housing and activity centers to churches and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sites and parks. The interactive sessions covered topics such as medications, nutrition, and monitoring foot and eye care. The nurses conducted fun demonstrations using visual aids – for example, they use sugar, lard, and salt to help illustrate the amounts of unhealthy ingredients in fast food.
A total of 178 targeted Medicare beneficiaries graduated from the classes. After the graduation, participants received a series of three calls from an IQH Healthline coach to reinforce the education and to collect information on follow-up visits with healthcare providers. Graduates received certificates and were featured in photographs in a local newspaper reaching more than 20,000 homes in the Meridian area. The coverage has helped to increase ongoing interest in the program.