(ATHENS, Ohio—Dec. 1, 2014) Though the Diabetes Institute at Ohio
University is only two years old, it’s already making its mark as a
leader in diabetes care, research, outreach and education. The
institute earned national recognition for its work in October,
taking home the American Osteopathic Foundation’s Excellence in
Diabetes Care award from the American Osteopathic Association’s
annual OMED Osteopathic Medical Conference and Exposition.
According to the AOF, the $10,000 award is given to an osteopathic
clinic or program that “has made significant advancements in health
care resulting in a better quality of life and improved clinical
outcomes for people living with diabetes.”
The money was awarded for use as startup funding to create a
diabetes health registry that will compile a variety of data on
diabetes patients from southeastern Ohio and nearby states.
Elizabeth Beverly, Ph.D., assistant professor of family medicine at
the Heritage College and co-director of research at the Diabetes
Institute, said she hopes that by analyzing the database, health
care providers can better understand which factors have the biggest
impact on diabetes management outcomes, which will help physicians
provide more effective and focused treatment.
Participating clinics will collect a range of information about
patients, including data on their self-monitoring of blood glucose
levels; steps they take to control their diabetes; medication
intake; exercise; physical data including height, weight and blood
pressure; cognitive measures of intelligence and organizational
skills; and psycho-social factors such as coping skills, confidence
and support from other people.
By collecting and analyzing enough data, Beverly said,
researchers will be able to help direct physicians to the patients
who need their help the most, and may also get closer to
understanding why diabetes rates are so much higher in Appalachia
than in other U.S. regions. In rural southeastern Ohio, the Diabetes
Institute’s award application notes, diabetes rates are 30 to 40
percent higher than national averages.
The Diabetes Institute Registry and Risk Stratification System,
as it will be called, is designed to help health care providers
identify patients most at risk for developing diabetes
complications. The immediate goal of the registry is to identify
obstacles that impair patients’ ability to manage their diabetes
successfully. “The overarching goal of the registry will be to
improve delivery, consistency and effectiveness of diabetes care in
central Appalachia,” the application adds.
Diabetes Institute Executive Director Darlene Berryman, Ph.D.,
R.D., L.D., noted that the Institute “strives to make a difference
for those living with diabetes in this region,” and said the
registry will help the organization better achieve that goal. “To be
able to provide quality, innovative care, we need to gain a deeper
understanding of the population in the region living with diabetes,
and establish a means to recognize those at highest risk, as well as
identify their barriers for management and the behaviors that
influence the progression of diabetes,” she said.
Input and assistance from primary care physicians and specialists
alike will be needed to make the registry work, though Beverly
emphasized that it’s aimed at making the doctors’ jobs easier, not
adding to their workload. “Any health care provider, and in
particular, primary care providers, can access the information,” she
explained. “We don’t want to create more work for any primary care
provider – they’re busy enough. But we definitely need physician
Such a project would grow more valuable the longer it is in
operation, and the plan is to make the registry sustainable.
“The Excellence in Diabetes Care award is a $10,000 award, and
that’s fantastic,” Beverly said, but added that this money will be
used only to get the project rolling. More funding will then be
sought to build it up further and keep it going, she said.
“We’ll definitely need other support,” she said.
Heritage College Executive Dean Kenneth Johnson, D.O., called the
AOF award well-deserved recognition for leadership in diabetes
research, education and treatment.
“The work of Heritage College and Ohio University researchers and
caregivers around diabetes is one of our greatest strengths, and one
of the most effective avenues we have for improving health and
quality of life for people in our state,” Johnson said. “The AOF
Excellence in Care award recognizes the prominence and importance of
that work at a national level.”