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More Urgent Than Ever: Community Health Centers Must Prepare to Effectively Prevent and Treat Diabetes

A recent Centers for Disease Control report found that almost half of U.S. adults have at least one chronic health condition, such as diabetes, that would put them at risk for severe complications from COVID-19. Even before this pandemic raised awareness about the importance of treating and preventing chronic problems, Community Health Centers already understood the urgency. 

With 25 percent of health center patients suffering from diabetes, diabetes is almost twice as prevalent among health center patients than in the general population. This percentage is expected to grow by up to 35 percent in the next five years. One-third of center patients with diabetes do not meet healthy target levels for blood sugar, blood pressure, or cholesterol which puts them at higher risk of serious health complications like heart disease and stroke. 

Improving outcomes for patients with diabetes would not only save lives, it would significantly reduce costs. If health center patients with uncontrolled diabetes could reduce their blood sugar by just over 1 percent, the potential savings in medical costs would exceed $3 billion over three years.  

The scale of the diabetes problem, plus the added dangers of COVID-19, compels Community Health Centers to be fully prepared to meet this challenge. For many centers, this requires a deep dive into transforming its foundational systems by utilizing resources we recently developed.  

The Value Transformation Framework, developed by NACHC’s Quality Center, guides health centers to specific areas key in driving systems change, including shifting away from a volume-based model of care and towards value-based care. Centers can take an online organizational assessment and even join other health centers in a nationwide learning forum called Elevate.  

Coupled with the framework, NACHC offers evidence-based interventions and resources through its Diabetes Change Package, available as a downloadable publication and an e-module. This change package provides detailed action steps, such as how to deploy care teams in new ways and ideas for engaging diabetic patients in self-management.  

Learn more about how to use NACHC’s Value Transformation Framework and diabetes resources to transform your health center’s diabetes care by clicking the video above.

Overlaying the Value Transformation Framework with the Diabetes Change Package provides health centers with a powerful tool to change systems and improve diabetes treatment and prevention. By combining diabetes-specific interventions with systems-level interventions, Community Health Centers will enhance patient and staff experience, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes for patients with diabetes.