By Jeff Arnold, CEO and Chairman
This weekend, I had the pleasure to deliver the closing keynote at the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) Conference in New Orleans. If you aren’t familiar with AADE, they have more than 14,000 members – nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and others – who (under Medicare and most health insurance plans) can be a part of a patient’s healthcare team, working with them to build a plan to stay healthy with diabetes, and give them tools and ongoing support to make that plan a regular part of their life.
When you consider how overwhelming it can be to manage diabetes – healthy eating, physical activity, monitoring the condition, taking medication and reducing risk for complications are all part of a person’s daily routine – this type of function in the healthcare ecosystem is important. And when you take into account the sheer number of people suffering from the disease, the role of the diabetes educator is critical: Almost 30 million children and adults in the United States (more than 9% of the population) have diabetes; and each year, diabetes kills more Americans every year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
For the AADE audience, I focused my presentation on how we can use technology to address the shift in mindset of consumer expectations: the fact they expect to bear more of their health care costs, but in turn require more control and capabilities to navigate their care. Even early on a Saturday morning (in New Orleans, no less), the AADE attendees were highly engaged – both in the room and on Twitter, asking smart questions and providing great feedback. The diabetes educator is embracing technology to be even more high-touch with their patients, and AADE’s members are a great example of how, together, we can use technology to make a positive impact on the healthcare industry at all points of the ecosystem.