Social Media and Diabetes Educators at AADE

I had the honor of attending the AADE Conference in Orlando, FL.  I drove up from the West Palm Beach area Wednesday morning to attend the session titled Social Media-Technology Tools for Online Communication that included Cherise Shockley, creator of DSMA and pure awesomeness!

Unfortunately, due to a bit of traffic in the Orlando area, I entered the discussion about 15-20 late and showed up to a pretty packed room. My very first thought was, “Awesome, there are a lot of educators that are interested in social media.” That gave me a chill down the back of my spine from the very beginning.  Just by attending this session, these educators are taking a step towards either beginning or improving the way they practice and deal with patients in the world we live in today.

The session included a lot of how-to’s for Facebook and Twitter. In fact, in the later part of the session, Cherise provided a step by step (click here, click there, type this) walkthrough of going to and creating your Twitter account. She also walked through the steps of following a group of people, how to search for people to follow and then sent out her first tweet (with that account).

There were questions from the attendees about whether or not to create a personal Facebook / Twitter profile or a professional one, do they use their name or a persona, do they allow patients to follow / friend their personal account, etc. These are all very valid concerns, especially when HIPAA becomes involved (which, seriously, it’s 2014, let’s live like it’s 2014 and not 2004).

The best advice was, “Do what you feel comfortable doing.”

I second that response and think that is the best advice for not just diabetes educators, but anybody that is creating a social media account. Don’t just do it because everyone else is doing it. Don’t just over-share on social networks because everyone else is.

Do what you are comfortable doing!

There was another response from an attendee that I wasn’t able to get the name or social handle for (word of advice, when introducing yourself at conference from now, give your name and Twitter handle), but she said, “Don’t be in your diabetes educator role online.” Meaning, just be a person. Be someone who is listening, who can talk, who can comfort, who is not just someone looking at a data point, but providing real support where and when it’s needed.

Social Media Tools

There were several tools that were mentioned to help you manage your social media accounts, but the main one discussed was HootSuite, which I am a paid user of and absolutely LOVE it. I manage over 40 social media accounts between clients and personal and without HootSuite, I don’t know where I would be. It was recommended to not use the paid version, which is fine if you only have 1-2 accounts that you are managing and I totally agree with that. However, for more advanced users, those that want data and analytics, I would highly recommend the $9.99/mo Pro Version of HootSuite.

There was a little part of the discussion that was used to talk about LinkedIn and creating a profile there for networking. I could go on a lot longer here just about LinkedIn, but I will save that for another day (or maybe another blog). The social media agency side of me feels there is a lot more that can be done with LinkedIn that most don’t realize.

Social Media Advocacy

Other examples of the power of social media that were discussed was Strip Safely, which at first, Bennet Dunlap did not have much to say, but with a little Twitter encouragement, he decided he would put in a few words and share some information about the Strip Safely campaign to Support CDE’s.

One announcement that was made during the session that is important is the new date set for DSMA for Parents with Kids with Type One, which is September 8, 2014. Put it on your calendars now.

Social Media Time Management

Another area of concern that seem to be in the room was the time management side of using social media. Listen, as somebody who owns a digital marketing agency and manages social media accounts for multiple businesses, this is the number one excuse I hear, “I just don’t have time to do it.” There is just so many tweets and I don’t know where to start, and many more phrases.  I get it. I can spend 10 hours a day on social media some days, but realistically, we can’t do that. But I am willing to bet, we can all find 20-30 minutes in our day to visit a social media site. And if you can’t….. then don’t! Once again, that goes back to doing what you are comfortable doing.

Hashtags are probably one of the best ways to help you manage your time on Twitter. If you want to just focus on reviewing tweets from people that maybe are having issues with high / low blood sugars, then the #bgnow hashtag may be great for you. If you are looking for people who use a Dexcom because you have a patient later today that you know will have some questions about their CGM, then you can use the hashtag #dexcom. Twitter Search is one of the most important tools in all of social media.

My biggest word of advice is to not stop using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social platform because you don’t understand it. If you allow yourself to learn, you will. The more you use it, the easier it becomes. And don’t hesitate to reach out to somebody who does know what is going on.

This was not the end of the discussion of social media and diabetes education. There was another session later in the conference that included a few of our own DOC members.

That session deserves its own post.

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Finally Attending AADE

I have been wanting to attend the AADE conference for about 5-6 years now and I just haven’t been able to attend. This will be my first major conference that I will be attending as “Media”  When I attended Scientific Sessions and Friends for Life (once a piece) it was as a vendor for a company that I used to work for.

One of the many reasons that I started my own company was so that I would have the freedom to attend these conferences and not have to worry about having the time off of work.  Unfortunately, during that same time period and building a business, I haven’t had the financial freedom to attend these conferences.

Since AADE is in Orlando, I am just a quick 2.5 hour drive away and don’t need to worry about a round trip airline ticket which saves me a lot of money, however, the hotel is still an extra $300-400 that needs to be budgeted for.  I decided last year that I will be attending this year’s AADE and I just kept putting a little money aside every month in order to know that I would be able to attend.

I highly recommend this to anybody that has interest in attending diabetes conferences.

Who all is going to AADE? I’d love to meet up with as many of you that I can. Orlando is basically my home, away from home (away from home, since I technically still consider PA my home), so if you need any tips for places to eat at or see, let me know.

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YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program

Last week I was contacted by someone at my local YMCA because they were given my information from my endo (she’s not an endo, I don’t know her exact title, but she’s who I see at the endo office). As I’ve written about before, my endo office is great with sharing information that I give them about diabetes inititiaves and outreach programs going on, which is why they put me in touch with the Y.

Last Friday I had the chance to meet with Robin from the Y to discuss the Diabetes Prevention Program. If you have not heard of this program, no worries, because I didn’t either until Friday when I stepped into the office. Basically, the program helps those that have a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and works with them to reduce their risk for developing T2D (or help slow it down) by making improvements to their overall health (eating, exercising, lifestyles, etc.) This program is based off of research done by the NIH that these changes in lifestyle can help reduce the numbers of Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis.

Before anybody tries to jump all over me, I know that diet and exercise is not going to stop everyone from getting Type 2 Diabetes, but we all do know that these changes help prevent those that are at risk. (more…)

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The Biggest Loser Fails Again

the-biggest-loserI wrote at the beginning of the new season that I was going to watch the Biggest Loser this year because I never had really watched it, but thought that it might help keep me motivated. It has definitely done it’s job in that area. Seeing some of the contestants reach the 100 pound weight loss mark and seeing others at the beginning of the season and realizing that I now weigh more than them puts a little spark in me.


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Life of a Sugar Patient

That title sounds a little weird doesn’t it?  No, I am not changing the name of my blog to that.  That phrase is a term that brought two visits, yes, not just one, but two visits to my blog last month.  WTF does that even mean?

I’ve decided to try and get a little creative about this sugar patient thing and also have a little giveaway. Leave a comment below with what your definition of a “sugar patient” is and a randomly selected commenter will receive a brand new Glooko cable.

Is a sugar patient somebody with diabetes? Somebody who is allergic to sugar? Somebody who doesn’t eat enough sugar? Somebody who is made up of sugar?

Good luck and happy creativeness

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The School of Hard Knox – Guest Post from The Poor Diabetic

Today’s post is a guest post from my good friend The Poor Diabetic
.  If you haven’t read The Poor Diabetic before, than you are missing out.  Ronnie’s posts are fun, educating, and just down right awesome.  I met Ronnie for the first time out in San Diego for the Roche Social Media Summit.  After speaking with him, I have been wanting a guest post from him since.  So here we go, on the subject of diabetes education.

I have been a diabetic for about 14 years and the real life experiences that come with that has to account for something when it comes to diabetes education doesn’t it?

Yet a newly diagnosed diabetic is more apt to listen to a first year medical student or a nurse practitioner than they would me right?

The reason is obvious, they purport themselves to be medical professionals and  I do not, In fact I like many other diabetic blogs you read go the further to proclaim this in bold print. The reasoning behind this is obvious as well, someone’s health is of primal importance and giving health advice should be left to said professionals. Woe unto you if you give  medical advice with adverse critical results, it is not just a moral issue but a criminal one as well.

But there is something to be said about life experiences when you are living with a chronic disease like diabetes.

It would be an understatement to portray the lack of diabetes education as a mere lacking.

Truth be told most if not many newly diagnosed patients have little if no knowledge of diabetes beyond the passing fancy and I would venture to say that this knowledge one has is fifty percent fact and fifty percent lies, myths, misconceptions, rumors, or any of the many unknowing words you might use to characterize it.

The learning curve after a diagnosis is steep at best and the learn on the job mentality if you may while it might be wrong is the accepted norm.

If I was to share a typical diagnosis it would be as though I was reading from a prepared script.

“ You have diabetes, you need to check your blood sugar using this machine, watch your carb intake, exercise and good luck to you” make an appointment with a nutritionist for your diet adjustments and a nurse will show you how to use your life saving gadgets other than that you are on your own and If you have any questions then I will be happy to answer them on your next visit six months from now. goodbye and good luck” This was my diagnosis story and am sure it was yours as well with a few minor variations.

I was left with very little in alternatives and back then the web was at its infancy, there was no diabetes websites or education resource or the DOC to say the least.

I learned diabetes management the hard way and even with all the online resources available today diabetes education still has a long way to go just to be proficient.

It would be naïve for me to say that a solution to this problem would be one broad stroke of the brush, the problem is a bit complicated than that. But I have one tangible and easily attainable solution.

The Medical profession is overworked  this we know to be a fact, it is for this reason and many others that most newly diagnosed are left to fed for themselves as it may.

These new diabetics are inevitably going to get online to find information on diabetes so why not steer them to the DOC and real diabetes information online.

The benefits for this process will go along way in laying the ground work for a  real diabetes education

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Guest Post – Hope Warshaw Diabetes Education and Educators

Diabetes Education and Educators: Who, What, Where and How?

Brief intro: Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD, CDE, has been a dietitian and diabetes educator for more than 30 years. She’s the author of several books about diabetes care and healthy eating published by American Diabetes Association. She’s currently on the national board of directors for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She’s a member of Diabetes Advocates ( and is passionate about building bridges between diabetes educators and the diabetes online community (DOC). Check out her interview with DOC leaders filmed at AADE 2011 ( Connect with Hope at


Stats show only 30 to 40% of people with diabetes in the U.S. ever meet (that’s even once) with a diabetes educator or attend a diabetes education program. What’s up with this? Oh let me count the reasons!

Even though Medicare and many large or small employer-based and individual health plans cover the services of diabetes educators (at least a few hours a year), far too few primary care providers (the people caring for the vast majority of people with diabetes, especially type 2s) make this important referral. Plus too few people with diabetes know about diabetes educators/education. It’s likely you do, so we’re hoping YOU will help spread this important message.

It’s my goal here to make sure you know who diabetes educators are, where they typically practice, how to access us and how YOU can take action to increase PWDs access to diabetes educators throughout the U.S.

Who are diabetes educators?
Diabetes educators are credentialed health care professionals who are most often nurses (including nurse practitioners, clinical specialists), dietitians, or pharmacists. A scattering of diabetes educators are social workers, psychologists, exercise physiologists, physical therapists or physicians.

Many diabetes educators make the choice to obtain the additional credential as a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). Another credential is BC-ADM, Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management.

Unfortunately there are far too few U.S.-based diabetes educators (<30,000) for the growing population of people with diabetes (excess of 18 million diagnosed, 80 million with prediabetes).  AADE is the multidisciplinary professional organization of diabetes educators ( Learn more about AADE and about the field of diabetes education. As you’d suspect, a goodly number of diabetes educators are PWDs.

How diabetes educators can offer an assist?
You know this first hand…taking care of diabetes is a relentless 24/7/365 job which requires you to be in the driver’s seat making hundreds of decisions about your care each day. Study after study shows that people with diabetes can stay healthier with frequent and continual education and SUPPORT.

Working with diabetes educators has the potential to:
– help you learn more about diabetes in general and your diabetes specifically
– assist you to analyze your BG/CGM records and think through options to improve control
– be a shoulder to cry on when you are burnt or bummed out
– serve as your advocate with other HCPs
– be one of your cheerleaders or coaches.
Plus, they can help keep you up to date on the latest research, medications, devices, technology and more.  (I’ll admit it, I’m a bit biased!)

Where are diabetes educators?
Diabetes educators most often work in diabetes education programs most typically found within the campus of a hospital/medical center out-patient clinic. You’ll often find a few diabetes educators working together in a program – most commonly a nurse and dietitian. These programs are often referred to as diabetes self-management education (or training) programs, abbreviated DSMT or DSME.

Due to the current evolution of how and where healthcare is/will be delivered, where diabetes educators practice is changing. More educators and programs are and will continue to be found in large primary care provider offices (duh? That’s where all the people with type 2 diabetes are), in pharmacies, supermarkets, and other convenient locales.

Eventually I believe there will be more online and telephonic education and support offered by educators. Mobile health (mhealth) will offer even more opportunities. AADE has just embarked on an exciting mhealth program with AT&T to deliver DSMT via AT&T mobile devices (

Is diabetes education a covered/reimbursed Medicare or health plan benefit?
Medicare and many other health plans require a DSME programs to be “recognized” by a Medicare accredited organization to cover/reimburse the service. To date there are two major accrediting organizations for DSME, American Diabetes Association and American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Medicare and many other health plans cover/reimburse a limited amount of diabetes education. Medicare covers up to 10 hours of DSME within the first year of your diagnosis of diabetes and then an additional two hours in consecutive years (link to

You may be eligible for coverage of another service called medical nutrition therapy (aka nutrition counseling). Medicare beneficiaries who have diabetes are eligible and many health plans also cover this benefit.

Laws passed in most states across the country require private health plans mandated by state law to cover some diabetes education (

If you believe you should have access to diabetes educators/education and it is being denied, talk to your health plan or your worksite health benefits plan administrator. Today, most people with a health plan can have access to some diabetes education.

How to find diabetes educators/programs?
To find a “recognized” DSME program approved by American Diabetes Association in your area go to: You’ll come to a screen to search for programs in your area.

To find a “recognized” AADE program in your area, go to From here go to your state.

Want to Help More PWD Access Diabetes Educators Across the U.S.?
Here’s the current problem: Medicare regulations only allow reimbursement for diabetes education to Medicare beneficiaries within a DSMT in-person program and not directly to individual credentialed diabetes educators (those with the CDEs and BC-ADM). This restricts where and how diabetes educators can practice and restricts access for PWDs.

To fix this AADE is forging ahead to change the Medicare regulations (Title XVIII of the Social Security Act or Medicare). The goal is to authorize direct reimbursement to credentialed diabetes educators for DSMT provided in-person and via telehealth (a growing method of delivering healthcare to people in small and rural communities) under Medicare out-patient services (Part B). 

The legislation is the Medicare Diabetes Self-Management Training Act of 2011, (House Resolution 2787, Senate Bill 1468). I ask that you support AADE’s effort to widen PWDs access to diabetes education/educators. Learn more about HR 2787 and SB 1468 and contact your Representative in the House and your two Senators to request their support of this legislation via AADE: Take one more action (30 seconds) to show your support for this important legislation. Sign on to the petition:

In conclusion, if you’re reading this blog you likely value the support you get from the diabetes online community (DOC). Perhaps you follow the diabetes news and connect with PWDs on twitter, Facebook and other social networking venues. Social networking has created an exciting and dynamic venue for PWDs to give and get support. In addition, consider connecting with a diabetes educator on an ongoing basis as another vehicle for supporting your efforts to take the best possible care of your diabetes and you through the years.

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Diabetes Education in America

Today’s post is coming at you very late at night because of some hosting and WordPress issues that I was having, but it seems that everything has been settled, let’s hope.  My post for today is to speak about diabetes education in America.  The main part that I want to focus on is the lack of diabetes education that is out there.  I have written about diabetes education in the past and still feel strongly about the need for it.  Tomorrow, I have a special guest post from Hope Warshaw with more information about diabetes education.

Here is my thought on diabetes education.  How do we expect people with diabetes or who may be at risk for diabetes to change their lifestyles for a healthier life if they don’t know what they are to do?  When somebody is rushed to the ER when they are first diagnosed they get hit with so much information and then may have one or two follow up visits with a diabetes educator.  And then that’s it.  Maybe their insurance doesn’t pay for it, or they don’t have any insurance at all, or they can’t afford to go see a dietician or psychologist or any other form of diabetes educator.  How are they supposed to make the decisions that they need.

One simple way is by providing easier access to this diabetes education.  The hard part is, how do we do this?  How do we get insurance companies to cover the costs of dietician visits or diabetes educator visits.  But what if your insurance does cover a Certified Diabetes Educator, but you can’t get an appointment for 6 months because there is only one CDE in your area and they are booked.  Guess your health just has to go on a 6 month long vacation right?  Uhhh…I don’t think so.

Some of the best diabetes education I ever received in my life came from a non-CDE, just a diabetes educator in general.  Of course there needs to be guidelines, you can’t just have any Joe Schmoe off the street coming in and giving diabetes education, but there just has to be a way that somebody who can provided information about diabetes is allowed to.  How do we do this?  I don’t know exactly.

This is exactly why I am looking for help from people out here.  I am interested in forming some sort of diabetes education advocates group.  I tweeted tonight about what we can do more for advocacy and one idea that I mentioned was that, it’s great to have as many people advocating as possible, but I think that if there were certain groups of people with more of a passion about one aspect than the other, more can be accomplished this way.

If you are interested in joining some sort of weekly, bi-weekly, monthly chat, Skype call, anything, please let me know.

Remember, tomorrow Hope Warshaw.

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Demand for Diabetes Educator Increases – Now What?

I recently read this article posted on Endocrine Today, Demand for Diabetes Educators Projected to Increase Sharply.  My first question when I read this is if the demand is going up, then is the supply going to increase as much?  I am not going to give an economics class here because most of you all know this, but when the demand increases, the supply tends to go down.  But the supply for diabetes educators is already low, so, I’m not a genius but this doesn’t sound look a good situation.  I think that we already knew that the demand for diabetes educators is going to increase sharply because the disease itself is increasing, so this article does not really tell me much or help the situation.

One question that was some-what answered in this article that I was interested in is how Medicare and insurance companies would reimburse for these diabetes education classes.  Would they cover only one a year, or 50% of each visit, or not cover any of them at all?  I think that it is important for diabetes education to be covered by insurance because people just don’t have the money to spend on education.  So if they don’t have the money to show up to a physical classroom setting or one-on-one lesson, or even a group diabetes education session, where else are they going to turn to?  Pick me, pick me, I know, I know.  The Diabetes Online Community, the DOC.  I mentioned this briefly in a post the other day also.

I think that it is essential to take diabetes education online.  There may not be live sessions on the internet, but quality recorded videos may be able to provide essential answers to some of the top diabetes questions.  One way to do this may be to submit your questions before hand and the diabetes educator can answer all the questions in one sitting and provide answers to all of the questions.

I know you are asking…. who’s going to pay for this?  Well, the answer is, I don’t know yet.  Who is going to produce the videos, edit them, finalize them, distribute them, what CDE is going to do this, how are we going to collect the e-mail questions?  I don’t know the answers to all of these questions, but I truly feel that the more I ask these questions, the more people are going to step up and answer these questions.

We all have specialties in the DOC, it is about damn time that we start pulling all of our personal resources together and start putting them together and start kicking ass with our skills.

Beginning today, Diabetes Education has now been put on my top todo list.  It was always on there, but it wasn’t as high as it is now.

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What We Can Do About Diabetes Education

The other day I wrote a post about who is certified to be a diabetes educator and I received a lot of great feedback from the DOC and also some great comments on the post.  I appreciated those that commented with their information about the certification process.  Also, good luck to Lauren if she decides to become a CDE.  Today I wanted to touch on a different subject related to diabetes education, and that is the lack of it.  I had wrote about this a long time ago, maybe two years ago, not sure?  The lack of diabetes education is scary.  I have attended sessions where a doctor will sit down with 10 patients and go over their charts in front of everybody and try and give education and advice that way.  That is way too difficult and is not fair to the individual because their diabetes is not being individually treated, but just the disease as a whole.

Every single person that is newly diagnosed must have access to diabetes education.  They may only get a limited amount of time with a certified diabetes educator because there just are not enough in this country.  So how are they going to get answers to their questions at 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday night?  I know, I know, pick me, pick me.


No, not this one…..

This one…. (not the entire DOC just the only pic I have from San Diego Roche Social Summit.

Roche Social Media Summit 2011

This is why it is so important for the online DOC to become just the DC.  I can already see a lot of you beginning to take the “O” of out DOC.  I think that the presentation that was just given at AADE is going to be huge.  I don’t know how well it went, I haven’t had much of a chance to read up on any posts or any feedback on it, I’m sure it made an impact.  If it didn’t at that exact time, then it definitely will begin to.

So how do we make sure that newly diagnosed and those that just don’t really know much about diabetes or want to know more about their diabetes get the education that they need?  There are several things that we can do:

  1. Get to a point whre CDE’s and HCPs are willing to give their patients information about the DOC.
  2. Online diabetes sessions with CDE’s (would require an hour or so of CDE time to do an online training session with as many people as possible)
  3. Get additional funding and aide for those that cannot afford to go see a CDE

Those are just a few ideas that pop into my head quickly.  I do not have the answers, but I sure don’t mind trying to be part of the solution to the problem however.  We have a lot of intelligent people in this community so I am sure among all of us, it can be done.  Who wants in and trying to get something done?

Have an awesome Saturday and rest of weekend everybody.

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