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Multipronged approach urged for employee diabetes care

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Employers should consider patient-centered medical homes, on-site primary care clinics, pharmacist-led care, convenience clinics and centers of excellence when tackling diabetes in the workplace, according to a report by the Northeast Business Group on Health.

These tactics, bolstered by digital diabetes-management tools and incentives, could help improve employee access to care, care coordination and engagement, according to “Transforming Diabetes Management: New Directions for Employers,” released Wednesday.

Traditional diabetes management centers on communications by phone between health coaches or nurses to educate employees and build skills in self-management, but those methods often fail to engage employees, according to the report, which is based on an NEBGH Solutions Center project involving more than 30 executives from employers, health plans, and consultancies.

Instead, employers should determine which emerging diabetes care models are appropriate for the company based on their employee population’s level or risk and need, NEBGH said.

High-risk employees, for example, could benefit from diabetes-focused centers of excellence, in-person coaching and patient-centered medical homes, which provide advanced primary care through teams of providers, according to the report.

Low-risk employees are better suited for convenience clinics, phone management, patient-centered medical homes and pharmacist-led care, in which pharmacists are contracted to provide diabetes education, medication adherence counseling and advice on self-management, according to the report.

These solutions can be integrated with digital tools, such as text-based appointment reminders, self-management tracking applications or app-connected glucometers that transmit data directly to the doctor, to drive employee participation, NEBGH said.

Employers should also consider providing rewards and incentives for engagement, or value-based benefit design, which may help direct employees to plan options that reward high-value behaviors, such as adhering to medication and choosing providers with expertise in diabetes management, NEBGH said.

“Employers have so much to gain with even modest success in diabetes management, and so much to lose if nothing is done,” Jeremy Nobel, executive director of New York-based NEBGH’s Solutions Center, said in a statement. “Managing diabetes is a daily, and in some cases an hourly, activity for employees and family members, and employers understand that. In addition to new innovative models of care, they’ve expressed strong interest in the potential of new digital tools for supporting employees across the needs spectrum.”