School of Diabetes Educates Clinicians Who Lack Access

Miriam E. Tucker

December 05, 2019

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA — A series of short interactive online courses on diabetes prevention and complications aimed at clinicians in underserved areas of the world has received positive feedback.

The first data to emerge for the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) School of Diabetes were presented here at the IDF Congress 2019 by IDF Education Project Coordinator Sameer Pathan.

Officially launched in 2017, the IDF School of Diabetes targets healthcare providers in low- and middle-income countries, particularly those in remote areas.

Four short (60-minute) courses are free.

There are also longer modules, with prices varying by country income level and professional group — specialist, primary care/general practitioner, and nurses/diabetes educators. Pharmacist courses are coming soon.

The School is endorsed by the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, and the activities are supported by unrestricted grants from Merck, Bayer, and Boehringer Ingelheim, which have no say on the content, Pathan told Medscape Medical News

The course content was developed by multidisciplinary teams of experts from 20 countries.

The four short free courses cover type 2 diabetes prevention, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, and diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The top price per longer course for specialists in countries not deemed low-income is €300 ($332). In low-income countries, the price for specialists is €200, and for GPs, €100.

"All courses by IDF improved the self-confidence levels of the [healthcare providers] with overall encouraging feedback," Pathan said.

Asked to comment, session moderator Patti Urbanski, MEd, RD, a certified diabetes educator, told Medscape Medical News, "I think it's a great program. I live in northern Minnesota, so obviously different than rural areas of developing countries, but still north of me there are many physicians who are working very hard at trying to manage diabetes in very rural areas where access to continuing education is a challenge."

"So the online technology and really focusing on rural areas and the particular needs of those areas...makes really good sense," said Urbanski, of St Luke's Diabetes Care Services in Duluth, Minnesota. Urbanski is a consultant for Abbott Diabetes and a product trainer for Medtronic.

She also noted, "This is a really good example of leveraging technology. I think many of us would rather learn face to face, but I've heard many healthcare providers in rural areas say they're fine with online learning because of the accessibility."

Participants Report Increased Confidence in Managing Diabetes

The short courses were designed to overcome the lack of confidence in diabetes management often reported by healthcare providers. Participants filled out initial and final self-evaluation feedback forms. 

From the launch through October 2019, a total of 11,038 healthcare professionals from 176 countries registered for one or more of the diabetes prevention, retinopathy, and cardiovascular disease courses.

Most registrants were from low- and middle-income countries (56%), with the highest proportions from Southeast Asia (22%), Middle East/North Africa (20%), and Africa (17%).

Most who registered (54%) were physicians, 11.6% were dieticians/diabetes educators (11.6%), and 9.6% were nurses.

Among all registrants, 36% completed one or more courses.

From initial to final self-evaluation, perceived self-confidence levels rose by 22%, 24%, and 32% following the prevention, cardiovascular disease, and retinopathy courses, respectively.

Overall, 88% were "satisfied" with the content. And 95% believed the courses fulfilled their educational goals, would implement the knowledge in daily practice, and would recommend the courses to colleagues and peers.

"In view of the popularity and positive impact of the courses, these courses have been translated and made available in multiple languages," Pathan said.

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