Integrating Other Practitioners

Other practitioners, such as pharmacists, podiatrists, optometrists, dentists, mental health practitioners, and counselors, can have a significant impact on diabetes management and should be considered as important partners to the primary care team.1 For example, pharmacists can assist primary care providers in the monitoring, management, and education of a patient’s medication plans and have been effectively integrated directly into primary care.2 Similarly, dentists can screen for and educate patients about the importance of proper oral health in managing the complexities of diabetes-related complications. Developing strategies for facilitating coordination of care with non-traditional practitioners and partners can help ensure a comprehensive approach to supporting patients in their diabetes management. Patient navigators, care managers, and care coordinators may serve as useful resources for linking patients to appropriate health care providers. The way your practice coordinates services with other practitioners will depend on the availability of local resources.

In addition to health care providers, the resources and support of community partners, such as community health workers, trained peer leaders, and school nurses, can also augment clinical care teams.3 In particular, peer leaders and community health workers have been successfully trained to facilitate sustained diabetes self-management with support needed over the long term.4,5 The role of these partners appears be particularly effective in underserved areas and with ethnically diverse populations.6