Final Thoughts: Awareness and Communication in Diabetes

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Thought leaders in diabetes provide closing remarks about the importance of continuous awareness of glycemic control in patients as well as the need for effective communication between patients and providers. 

Peter Salgo, MD: For what it’s worth, I interview a lot of doctors. I’ve done a lot of panels. What struck me about you folks—the folks who deal with diabetics every day, or people with diabetes—I’m informed that diabetics is not the best term.

Davida Kruger, MSN, APN-BC, BC-ADM: It’s not good.

Peter Salgo, MD: Not good—so, people with diabetes, people dealing with this disease. What I noticed is that you listen. Every 1 of you talks about listening to people. Doctors are bad at that, as a group, but not you. Did you select this because you like listening, or did you learn to listen because that’s what you do? I don’t know. It was just an observation. Call it a hunch. Look, we have come to the end of this discussion, but I don’t want to leave without giving each of you an opportunity to say something that you feel we may have omitted or something that you want to leave our audience with. Why don’t we go around, and each of you can take about 30 seconds and give us some final thoughts. Why don’t we start with you, Elaine?

Elaine Apperson, MD: I’m just thinking back on the patients that I saw today. One of the biggest challenges of diabetes, and dealing with highs or lows, is that you could do everything perfectly Monday to Monday. With other things like saving money, or training for a marathon, you have something to build on. Maybe on the eighth day you can take a day off. That’s not the case with diabetes. You’ve got to start all over again that eighth day and do it all over again, and it may be the worst day of the eight. It’s such a marathon to run, and you don’t have an end line, or point, to look forward to. As a provider, you have to place yourself in that reality. You have to see through the patient’s eyes every day, and if you don’t do that, then you won’t understand their struggles and you miss the boat. That’s what I strive to do every day for them.

Peter Salgo, MD: Davida?

Davida Kruger, MSN, APN-BC, BC-ADM: Wow, that was well said. Thank you. We really need to understand that, as Elaine has said, diabetes never gives the patient a break; it’s 24-7. Hypoglycemia is incredibly scary and really does limit so much of what the patient can and can’t do if we aren’t careful with educating our patients, assisting with quality of life, and making sure patients have a good understanding of their medications. We need to provide good education on prevention and treatment, and the use of continuous glucose monitoring [CGM] to try and help patients prevent hypoglycemia. We all need to take it seriously and make sure that we ask the right questions every time we touch the patient, so that hopefully we can have a better outcome for them.

Peter Salgo, MD: Anne?

Anne Peters, MD: I’m going to say something completely different, but I agree with what Elaine and Davida said. I want a system in which the pharmacist tells the patient and me every 2 years when their glucagon is going to expire, so I know to write a new prescription. Because what makes me crazy is when I’ve forgotten and the patient has forgotten to ask, and then they have a bad low and they don’t have their glucagon. Why can’t the pharmacists do this? I get bugged all the time about everything. Why can’t the pharmacist just say, “Patient X needs a prescription for glucagon”? That’s no skin off my back. They should probably just do it without a prescription. Why does this even have to require a prescription? That’s another issue. We need a system so patients and providers are reminded to do the refills. I don’t know why it doesn’t exist, so we need to create that solution.

Davida Kruger, MSN, APN-BC, BC-ADM: It can’t be costly.

Peter Salgo, MD: Could that be built into the EMR [electronic medical record]?

Anne Peters, MD: Yeah, it should be.

Peter Salgo, MD: When you click the prescription, it should pop up in 2 years.

Anne Peters, MD: It should just say, “This is due.” Why not?

Peter Salgo, MD: Why not? Jay, you have the last word.

Jay Shubrook, DO, FACOFP, FAAFP, BC-ADM: Hypoglycemia is certainly something that’s very important to our patients, and most providers underestimate the frequency of it. Please ask your patient and the family at every visit about hypoglycemia. There’s no better time than today because we have plenty of tools to identify hypoglycemia, such as CGM, or continuous glucose sensors. We have ways that we can help patients have less hypoglycemia—particularly patients with type 2 diabetes—with novel therapies, and we have very effective treatments that can abort a hypoglycemic episode. Making sure you use the right treatment at the right time really is going to empower your patients not to be paralyzed by hypoglycemia but to be an informed and active crusader to prevent it and treat it earlier.

Peter Salgo, MD: I want to thank all of you for being with us. This has been eye-opening for me because I don’t treat diabetes on a daily basis. I always thought, “It’s about sugar, for sure; usually it’s about hyperglycemia.” This hypoglycemic problem is real, significant, and tricky. These new therapies that I’ve learned about from you are strikingly interesting. Thank you all for being here.

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Transcript Edited for Clarity