North Carolina AHEC Program
spring 2012 newsletter | home

Area L AHEC Initiative Receives Grant

Area L AHEC in Rocky Mount has been awarded a $146,000 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to implement Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs) for the diabetic population in three federally qualified health centers. A curriculum will be developed and used to teach providers and staff locally with plans to utilize this model statewide.

Medical groups face increasing pressure to generate revenue, contain costs, and see more patients in less time. As a result, relationships between patients and their providers are strained. Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs) were developed in the 1990s and are an innovative model for providing quality diabetic education and promoting diabetes self-management. Self-management is an integral part of diabetic care, and patients with diabetes must perform multiple self-management activities on a regular basis to help prevent poor outcomes.

The goal of SMAs is to provide the educational component of diabetic appointments with a group of patients, instead of repeating the same material on a one-on-one basis. SMAs support an interdisciplinary team approach in providing care and educating the patient, allowing access to specialists. Area L AHEC would like to become a center of excellence around SMAs by developing a program that can be replicated statewide to train staff at primary care practices to implement and utilize successfully this care delivery system. There are approximately 70 primary care clinics in the Area L region employing approximately 235 clinicians. Based on 2007 data from the North Carolina Division of Public Health, 14.9% of the population in the Area L AHEC region is diabetic. This is the highest percentage of any region statewide.

Data from the North Carolina Division of Public Health, Diabetes Prevention and Control Branch for 2008 show that in the previous year 9,532 diabetics in the Area L region did not attend diabetes education classes, 5,081 had less than two HbA1c exams, 6,384 did not have a dilated eye exam, 7,643 did not have a flu shot, and 9,700 did not have a pneumococcal vaccination. This one year project will focus on improving the lives of local residents by implementing SMAs that will educate providers and staff to manage patients with diabetes using a method that has been shown to improve clinical outcomes, improve access issues, increase patient satisfaction, and decrease medical costs.

“We look forward to implementing this care module in our region which will inevitably have a positive impact on the patients involved. Dr. Debby Futrell, Area L AHEC director, Mrs. Monique Mackey, director – Quality Initiatives, and Mrs. Patty Collins, director – Nursing Education/ORPCE will oversee this project. Area L AHEC has always been interested in an interdisciplinary approach to providing education and is excited to have this opportunity,” says David M. Webb, EdD, president, Area L AHEC.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Based in Winston-Salem, NC, its mission is to improve the quality of life and quality of health for the financially needy of North Carolina. The Health Care Division promotes wellness statewide by investing in prevention and treatment. The Poor and Needy Division of the Trust responds to basic life needs and invests in solutions that improve the quality of life and health for financially needy residents of Forsyth County. Wachovia, a Wells Fargo Company, serves as sole trustee.