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Diabetes education offers chance to save lives and $3.9 billion

A Life as a RN-CDE, a real life insight into what Credentialled Diabetes Educators do.

Australian healthcare cost savings in 2014 would total an extraordinary $3.9 billion and thousands of lives would improve if diabetes education programs were made available to all 1.37 million Australians with diabetes, according to a new report.

Currently, just over half of the 1.37 million Australians with diabetes have access to diabetes education programs. Many private health insurance companies currently refuse to pay for diabetes education services, while Medicare funding is also inadequate.

The end result is that many Australians with diabetes either have to pay for consultation with a diabetes educator themselves or miss out, despite the effectiveness of diabetes education in helping manage the condition, according to the Deloitte Access Economics report, Benefits of Credentialled Diabetes Educators to people with diabetes and Australia.

The report showed the urgency of revising funding for diabetes education, the CEO of the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA), Dr Joanne Ramadge said.

“Inadequate funding for diabetes education for the 1.37 million Australians with diabetes has resulted in spiralling healthcare costs and many people losing their quality of life,” Dr Ramadge said.

“It would cost $237 million to provide diabetes education to every Australian with diabetes in 2014 – just six per cent of the healthcare bill that could arise as a result of inadequate diabetes education,” Dr Ramadge said.

“To put that in context, a $173 investment in diabetes education would return $2,827 in healthcare cost savings.”

Deloitte Access Economics was commissioned by the ADEA to produce the report in order to provide an independent analysis of the cost effectiveness of diabetes education.

The report found that out of pocket costs for patients is one of the main barriers to access diabetes education. There is also a shortage of Credentialled Diabetes Educators as a result of shortcomings in diabetes education funding. Diabetes educators currently service just 57% of Australians with diabetes.

Credentialled Diabetes Educators are health professionals who have completed an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline, a graduate certificate in diabetes education, 1,800 hours of practice in diabetes education and a six-month mentoring relationship with an experienced educator.

Diabetes is a complex disease which can be much more effectively self-managed as a result of education, the report stated. The World Health Organisation has indicated that diabetes education is a highly cost effective health measure.

“This report demonstrates that diabetes education is effective in improving the self-management of diabetes and its costs are inexpensive relative to the healthcare costs incurred later on from poorly-managed diabetes,” Dr Ramadge said.

“Diabetes education programs offer an extraordinary return on investment that this report shows should no longer be ignored.”

“For the sake of the hundreds of thousands of Australians who currently cannot access diabetes education, the system of funding and supporting diabetes education needs to be changed urgently.”

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