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Best Practices in Diabetes Care – Findings from TRICARE Providers

Health Net Federal Services, LLC (HNFS) is committed to continuous quality improvement, but it’s not something we can do alone. As part of our efforts to improve diabetes care screenings (annual HbA1c, LDL-C and retinal eye exams), HNFS spoke with four of the highest performing network TRICARE providers in the previous TRICARE North Region to gain better insight and share some best practice techniques in diabetes care. Here’s a sampling of what we found:

Complete Labs On-Site

If possible, have the patient come in several days before the appointment to complete lab work. That way the lab results can be reviewed and discussed with the patient during his or her appointment time. If lab work can’t be done beforehand, make sure patients complete their labs before they leave the office.

Office Policies – Formal or Informal

Whether your office has a single protocol or every provider makes decisions independently, it’s important to follow general standards and guidelines. Diabetic patients who are well controlled may not need to come in as often as those who are not, but it is important to make sure all diabetic patients are pre-scheduled for regular check-ups before they leave an appointment.

You Don’t Need an Electronic Health Record – But it Helps

While it would be nice to have technology that could do all the tracking and management of patients with chronic diseases, it isn’t required to be successful. Regular chart reviews done prior to seeing a patient for his or her appointment and clear visit notes on when next tests and screenings are due can be just as effective for managing diabetic patients when done systematically.

Empower and Educate

Empower patients to take responsibility for the management of their disease. Some patients may be interested in seeing their lab results or other test findings – What is their cholesterol level, what does it mean, where should it be, what steps can they take to change it? Other patients may need detailed handouts and reminders about diet, physical exercise and when to take medications. Use an appointment to ask questions, discuss and educate – being as clear and specific as possible.

For newly diagnosed diabetic patients, be sure to mention HNFS’ free, one-hour telephone-based class on diabetes. The Essentials of Diabetes Management teaches patients about the four cornerstones of diabetes self-management: monitoring, medication, nutrition, and physical activity. A short three-minute video about routine diabetes care screenings is available to you as well. Feel free to share this video with patients or play it in your office waiting room.

Our aim is to provide the information, resources and support needed to help providers deliver the best care available to beneficiaries. For more information, visit our Clinical Quality Initiatives page.