Access to specialized diabetes care is limited due to shortage of endocrinologists and distance to specialty clinics. In addition, referrals to out-of-network providers frequently results in suboptimal care coordination. Tele-mentoring models such as ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) extends specialty knowledge to primary care providers. Prior to the implementation of a series of ECHO sessions, we assessed provider confidence in managing type 2 diabetes (T2D) .

Methods: Prescribing providers (PP) from three VA Health Care Systems in Florida (North Florida/South Georgia) , Texas (Valley Coastal Bend) and Wisconsin (Milwaukee) were invited to participate. We asked questions about practice patterns, prescription habits, and confidence level treating T2D.

Results: A total of 49 PP completed the assessment. Mean age was 42.5 years and 74% were females. They were clinical pharmacists (63%) , physicians (22%) , ARNP (8%) , and the rest were trainees. Clinical experience < 5 year was present in 14.2%, whereas 67% had > years. Half of the providers felt very or extremely confident managing a complicated case (A1c>8% on two oral agents) , whereas only 14% of providers felt either “not at all” or somewhat confident. Most of the providers felt very or extremely confident obtaining a diabetes-focused history (63%) , educating patients about complications (69%) , or changing insulin regimens (61%) . Although most of the providers prescribed a glucose meter very often or always (81%) , only 6% of them prescribed a continuous glucose monitor frequently. When sending a referral, 32% mentioned either lack of local endocrinologists or long waiting time as main barriers. Providers felt that patients prefer to stay with their local VA PCP for diabetes care instead of seeing a specialist (65%)

Conclusions: A third of providers perceive significant barriers to access specialized diabetes care. There are opportunities to improve provider confidence and skills managing diabetes.


C.E.Mendez: Advisory Panel; Monarch Medical Technologies . K.Hazen: None. L.M.Semeah: None. J.A.Leey: None. E.A.Mattox: None. S.Kadiyala: None. M.Xhikola: None. K.Yantsides: None. A.D.Oien: None. I.O'shaughnessy: None. A.E.Hansen: None. J.Lucas: None.


Veterans Rural Health Resource Center - 00RH

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