Interview: McKell Drury, Utah Department of Health
Updated: Sep 6, 2019
July 30, 2019
Community Clinical Linkages Coordinator
Healthy Living through EPICC Program at Utah Department of Health
State: Utah (UT)
In efforts to communicate how federal and state government organizations continue helping those living with diabetes, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with several department of health executives nationwide. I caught up with Utah Department of Health’s Community Clinical Linkages Coordinator of their Healthy Living Through the Environment, Policy, and Improved Clinical Care Program, also known as EPICC, to learn more about them soon launching online diabetes education statewide. She was eager to share about how online DSMES will help change Utah’s diabetes trajectory and truly benefit its certified diabetes educators and their patients.
Ravyn Towns: How new will this pilot be for Utah Department of Health?
McKell Drury: This is VERY new to us and we are eager to present this pilot to our certified diabetes educators and their patients!
RT: When will the pilot begin and how many locations are you deploying to?
MD: This pilot will officially begin in the fall and we will deploy it to three locations. We are REALLY excited to offer this; we’re always hearing from or diabetes population that they need programming to combat a lack of time and lack of accessibility. We’re really hopeful and confident that dMeetings is that “little something MORE” for our certified diabetes educators and patients.
RT: What are the programs you’re rolling it out to?
MD: Uintah Basin Medical Center, Maple Mountain Pharmacy, and Summit County Health Department are the three programs. Uintah Basin Medical Center is an extremely rural hospital and the largest rural healthcare system within Utah. Its main objective is to provide more specialized healthcare services locally, so residents do not have to travel long distances to the Wasatch Front. Thankfully, it is also home to a Diabetes Education and Training Program that is accredited by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). Maple Mountain Pharmacy is a locally-owned community pharmacy that offers individualized care to all its patients and their pharmacists are easily accessible and have ongoing relationships with their patients. In addition to providing information about prediabetes and diabetes, Maple Mountain Pharmacy also delivers DSMES program services and benefits. Lastly, Summit County Health Department currently offers prevention classes for Type 2 Diabetes. In February of this year, the health department welcomed its first Certified Diabetes Educator.
RT: How did the selection process for the pilot go?
MD: As we reached out to our partners, these were the three locations that floated to the top and stood out the most. The amazing thing about Summit Health Department is that it’s an extremely new organization! So, we’re catching them right at the start, as soon as they kick off. They haven’t even offered its first class there yet. This will allow us to see the impact of implementation from a TRUE beginning.
RT: What was the main goal for selection?
MD: We wanted to make sure that we were hitting different settings and different angles. So, by selecting these, we’re providing innovation to a hospital, a pharmacy, and most importantly, a new, rural organization.
RT: Can you tell me what solidified your team’s confidence in dMeetings?
MD: To be honest, it was GREAT timing. We had reached a point that we knew there was something missing and we really needed to offer our certified diabetes educators a solution that would allow their clients better time management and meaningful education, ultimately giving our certified diabetes educators the opportunity to best support their patients.
RT: Was saying “yes” to dMeetings a “no brainer” for your team?
MD: BASICALLY. *chuckles* It. Just. Felt. RIGHT.
RT: I’ve heard you mention your rural population a few times. Is it safe to say that’s the main demographic you’re targeting?
MD: Yes. Here in Utah some of our patients literally drive 45 minutes to an hour to get to their educator. So, dMeetings will help our diabetes population A LOT.
RT: What’s additional bonus about dMeetings?
MD: For many patients, it can be overwhelming when you first meet with your diabetes educator. So, with dMeetings online DSMES it can be a stress reliever to know that at any moment you can go back and review your diabetes management materials. And, this can be done in private as often as the patient needs.
RT: You mentioned transportation as a barrier for your overall diabetes population. What’s another barrier?
MD: Time. Definitely time. Many of our diabetes education programs offer group classes but once again, the patient may not arrive on time and the educator is operating at a general speed to educate many patients at once. This is where dMeetings comes in and truly helps our many educators and patients in NEED.
RT: Can you tell me about your funding resources?
MD: We are supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, federal grants only.
RT: Does Utah have any additional goals for the use of funding to support your diabetes population?
MD: We have so many; I don’t know where to begin. *chuckles* Within our EPICC program, we really focus on diabetes management and prevention with a long list of goals.
RT: Last but certainly not least, how will you measure success?
MD: We will use the dMeetings model in contrast to the existing models in each program and then compare outcomes. dMeetings helped our department develop an evaluation process and we will also work closely with the head of each program to monitor and assist all aspects of programming.
The CDC continues supporting the United States and the District of Columbia in their efforts to address serious national health problems with diabetes remaining a top priority. As Drury noted about her organization, some states are 100% funded by the CDC’s Improving the Health of Americans Through Prevention and Management of Diabetes and Heart Disease and Stroke grant. This funding continues supporting Utah’s efforts to prevent and delay the development of type 2 diabetes in people at high risk and improve the health of the diagnosed population. In September 2018, Utah was awarded $770,663 for diabetes related tasks, initiatives, and programs. This award, distributed under a 5-year cooperative agreement, supports all state health departments efforts toward type 2 diabetes prevention and diabetes management. In regard to type 2 diabetes prevention, it will increase access to, coverage for, and enrollment and retention of people with prediabetes in the National Diabetes Prevention Program’s (National DPP) lifestyle change program.
It will also allow state health departments to work with health care organizations to identify people with prediabetes and refer them to CDC-recognized organizations offering the National DPP lifestyle change program. In regard to diabetes management, it will increase access to, coverage for, and participation of people with diabetes in diabetes self-management education and support Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSMES) and Support programs recognized by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) or accredited by the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). Lastly, it will support the increase in the use of pharmacists in providing DSMES and in helping people with diabetes manage their medications. As Towns continues chronic disease research across the nation, these findings will be published in a series of case studies, articles, and interviews.