Article published in 6 Minutes Newsletter on 24 July, 2014 by Rachel Worsley
The management of comorbidities is one of the most pressing challenges in the care of diabetes patients, says Dr Dale Ford, the clinical adviser to the non-profit Improvement Foundation.
“Up to 80% of diabetes patients have comorbidities. Often people don’t want to have multiple people looking after different parts of the condition,” says Dr Ford, whose organisation set up the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives (APCC), which trains GPs and nurses to improve the care of people with chronic diseases.
The program celebrates its tenth year in 2014, and has so far worked with more than 3,500 primary health professionals with more than 320,000 diabetes patients on their books.
The focus is on preventing complications arising from type 2 diabetes. This is achieved through team care, which includes GPs and practice nurses. The nurses deal with ongoing diabetic care, keeping an up-to-date diabetic register and implementing GP management plans.
Dr Ford says the program ensures GPs don’t get overly distracted by the day to day demands of diabetic patients.
The program works equally well across urban, rural, regional and Aboriginal general practices have been quite uniform, says Dr Ford. But more work needs to be done in encouraging proactive identification of those at risk of diabetes, he says.
“The APCC program is currently working with doctors on diabetes prevention by identifying who is at risk of developing type 2 diabetes within the practice, especially as it is a largely preventable disease.”