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Postgrad Med. 2012 Mar;124(2):64-76. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2012.03.2538.

Managing diabetes with integrated teams: maximizing your efforts with limited time.

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Henry Ford Health System, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Bone, and Mineral Disorders, Detroit, MI, USA.


The importance of glycemic control has been well established. In response, the American Diabetes Association has established goals for glycemic control and other cardiovascular parameters, including blood pressure and low-density and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. However, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has shown that only about half (57%) of patients with diabetes meet a glycated hemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)) goal of < 7%, approximately 45% meet blood pressure and total cholesterol goals, and only 12% achieve all 3 treatment goals. While treating hyperglycemia remains the primary treatment goal, careful selection of pharmacotherapies that do not adversely affect cardiovascular risk factors or long-term glycemic control is an important consideration for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. During the past 5 years, the number of treatment options and the complexity of treatment guidelines for diabetes have increased markedly, which makes treatment decisions more complicated and time-consuming, and greatly impacts the workload of the primary care physicians who deliver care to the majority of this population. To provide optimal diabetes care when time and resources are limited, primary care physicians may want to enlist the support of other providers, such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, diabetes educators, dietitians, and social and case workers. The use of team care, coupled with appropriately chosen pharmacologic therapy and patient education that fosters the development of critical thinking skills and the ability to make self-management decisions, have been shown to improve glycemic control and cardiovascular outcomes.

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