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Diabetes Institute wins grant award to start regional health registry

 
(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 input.”

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.”

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Last updated: 01/28/2016