Diabetes deals with a dangerous hand

Coordinated care across the entire health care system improves patient health

ST. LOUIS, May 25, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — It’s a matter of life and death and dollars and cents: Diabetes is the eighth leading cause of death in the the United Statesand those with the disease spend twice as much on medical expenses.1

Mercy (https://www.mercy.net/newsroom/mercy-quick-facts/), named one of the top five healthcare systems in the US four consecutive years by IBM Watson Health, serves millions annually. Mercy is one of the most highly integrated multistate healthcare systems in the country, including more than 40 critical, managed and specialty care hospitals (heart, children, orthopedics and rehabilitation), convenient urgent care locations, imaging centers and pharmacies. Mercy has 900 physician offices and outpatient facilities, more than 4,000 Mercy Clinic physicians and advanced practitioners, and more than 40,000 co-workers serving patients and families in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In addition, Mercy’s IT division, Mercy Technology Services and Mercy Virtual commercially serve providers and patients from coast to coast. (PRNewsfoto/Mercy)

To make patients healthier and protect their pockets, Mercy is using its electronic medical record to identify patients with high blood sugar and guide them to better health.

“Our team works as ‘traffic controllers of care’ to find out what the barriers are for our patients so they can beat their diabetes,” he said. Jennifer Gist, manager of Mercy’s diabetes care team. “We knew that if we could help patients get this under control, their overall health would improve immensely. In the fall of 2021, we developed an algorithm that could search our electronic health record and identify patients who needed extra help. Once we find that person, we we’ll get in touch and help them deal with their care.”

Larry Eddings in Willard, Missouri, has known for decades that he has Type 2 diabetes, with his estimated average glucose reading, or A1C, progressively getting worse. In 2022, it rose to 9.4%, well outside the normal range of less than 5.6%.

“I was what you would probably call a ‘non-compliant’ patient,” he said. “Every time I went to the doctor I heard the advice about eating right and exercising, but what I really heard was ‘don’t have fun.’ I figured at 69 I only have a few days left and I want to make the most of them.”

this and where ashley evans, a clinical pharmacist at Mercy, intervened. “I don’t work in a pharmacy,” she explained. “I work in the clinic with the primary care team to help patients like Larry manage their medications. Our team makes sure they are taking the right drugs and that they can afford it.”

Evans switched Eddings to a newer drug and enrolled him in a health care program. “As a retired pastor, I could never afford it myself,” he said. Eddings submits her glucose count each morning, which is monitored by her diabetes nurse and sent to Evans in case a change is needed. As a result, he is using less insulin and his A1C has dropped to 7.2%.

“I’ve lost 25 pounds and I can’t keep my pants on,” he said. “I actually feel like there’s hope that I can get better rather than worse.”

For couple Terri and Pat Weaver in Greenwood, Arkansas, the diabetes diagnoses came as a surprise. Pat was diagnosed after a heart attack about 14 years ago, and his wife had been in the hospital with breathing problems for five years when she learned she had the condition. Both agree that the responsibility they are given by April Wimp, their registered diabetes care nurse and education specialist, has made all the difference for them.

“I check my sugar every morning because I know I have to submit a report,” Terri said. “It was hard to manage before April came into the picture. I didn’t know what she was doing. She’s worked with us and she’s really worried about us.”

Pat agrees. “I feel really bad about falling off the wagon and eating things I shouldn’t be eating,” he said. “There were times when my blood sugar spiked and April called right away. We talked about it, talked about what I ate and figured out how to make changes. She explained a lot of things about diabetes and food that I never knew. She really cares about what we’re doing, and it made me want to work harder to make her happy.”

Positive results are widespread. More than half of Mercy patients enrolled in the diabetes care model achieved a reduction in their A1C levels and an average of 5% weight loss. Those with A1C levels greater than 13 lowered their readings by an average of 21% – with half dropping by an average of 44%.

Diabetes care coordination is just one example of how Mercy is using data to take a broad look at its patients’ health issues and then react with personalized care to meet individual needs. Care teams can define search parameters and even change them over time, allowing flexibility to serve patients with greater needs. For diabetes, the automated search built into Mercy’s electronic health record looks for patients with A1C levels greater than 9%. Once identified, the team contacts you to ask patients to participate in the program.

“We’re using technology to care for entire populations, one patient at a time,” said Dr. Gavin Helton, President of Primary Care at Mercy. “We extracted the data, found the opportunities and worked directly with our primary care teams and our patients to make a real difference. It was clear that we had a large group of patients – those with diabetes – who could benefit from the intervention. With this approach , we improve the lives of individual patients and the health of the group as a whole.”

The Weavers are glad they accepted the extra help. “My sugar has dropped so low,” Terri said. “I felt awful before, getting severe headaches whenever my sugar spiked. I feel so much better.”

Compassion, one of the top 25 healthcare systems in the US and named the largest large healthcare system in the US for outstanding patient experience by NRC Health, serves millions annually with nationally recognized quality care and is one of the nation’s largest responsible care organizations. Compassion is a highly integrated, multi-state health system, including more than 40 intensive care, managed and specialized hospitals (heart, children, orthopedics and rehabilitation), convenient and urgent care locations, imaging centers and pharmacies. mercy has 900 physician offices and outpatient facilities, 4,000 Mercy Clinic physicians and advanced practitioners and over 40,000 co-workers who serve patients and families across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri It is oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, mississippi It is texas.

1US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/quick-facts.html



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Fountain of Mercy

Diabetes deals with a dangerous hand

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