Sometimes making progress with diabetes is getting one patient to eat better or figuring out how a particular hormone increases fat storage, but sometimes you need to widen the scope of your lens and figure out why there is a diabetes epidemic now, here. And that takes a village because the societal causes and solutions to the diabetes problem are legion.
In an attempt to take this high level view, Joslin Diabetes Center is hosting the 2nd Diabetes Innovation Congress at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington D.C. from October 3 to 5. This is the place to be this fall if you are a mover and shaker in the diabetes world and have a vested interest in diabetes management and finding new solutions to some age-old (and some newly-diagnosed) challenges.
Drawing stakeholders from all over the United States, they are hoping to provide a marketplace of ideas as well as provoke innovation and action that will address the cost, productivity and quality-of-life impact of diabetes on our society. Some of this year’s speakers come from health care, but the affiliation of some others might surprise you. For example, Sandra Cook, a consumer assistance specialist at Arkansas Health Benefits Exchange Partnership Division and Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., C.N.S., the diet and nutrition editor on NBC’s Today Show are among the invited speakers.
The conference was initiated three years ago by Julie Brown, Director of Professional Education at Joslin as a leadership summit co-hosted with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This iteration received such laudatory reviews that Joslin decided to make it an annual event, followed up with last year’s re-named Diabetes Innovation Congress.
When we think about solutions for diabetes we often first think about a medical model, but there is so much more involved. Employers and payers have resources that can be harnessed to help gradually improve the economic environment for people with diabetes. Food companies and restaurants have the capabilities of making the food served healthier not only for people with diabetes but for all Americans. Those involved in community activism can serve as models for making healthy choices that improve access.
“The event is envisioned as a high visibility platform for Joslin to lead and convene in the fight against diabetes,” Says, Nancy Felsheim, Program Manager, at Joslin. “The effort is not so much a conference as a ‘call to action.’ We want to see real commitment from stakeholders and then follow and report on progress. Joslin is not seeking ‘limelight;’ we are just using our voice to convene and, we hope, ignite and inspire in order to spark real concrete changes in diabetes care and treatment.”
In 2012 the agenda ran the gamut of topics from policy and payment reform to emerging care models, gaming and mobile technology solutions. New for 2013 is a focus on diabetes friendly health insurance exchanges, evidence-based approaches to nutrition and its effects, and a day one “reality check” panel that features experts from the diabetes community reacting to the changes taking place in primary care and an answer to the question, “Are we moving in the right direction to improve early diagnosis and outcomes for diabetes?”
This year’s program will also feature a case study on diabetes care innovation at Joslin’s newest affiliate in Washington, D.C., Providence Hospital. As a 2012 delegate, Saad Sakkal, M.D., of the Metabolic Care Center, said, “Diabetes Innovation is the best forum to bring provider, patient and innovator together for the benefit of each and for making the future reality.”
Many good things came out of last year’s conference. Kathleen Gold, Director of Outreach and Education Diabetes Research and Wellness launched a new website, “Diabetes Local” that provides local community resources. Andrea Barrack, M.D., Medical Director of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana started to implement coverage of the Diabetes Prevention Program for their members.
Here’s to hoping that this year’s summit sparks even more diabetes prevention and care initiatives.
To learn more about the Congress visit www.diabetesinnovation.org.