Contributor: Nicole M. Bereolos, PhD, MPH, CDE
In partnership with
When thinking about a healthcare team, most people living with diabetes believe that the physician writing the prescription for their diabetes medication is the leader of the team. Having a mindset that there is one physician who is the most knowledgeable, and who will make decisions in your best interest at all times, can actually prevent you from getting the best care possible. People living with diabetes should feel empowered to become the CEO of their healthcare. Patients should develop a team of healthcare professionals who each provide unique input on various aspects of living with diabetes. This can be analogous to a board of directors, with each member contributing something different. Members of your Living with Diabetes Board can include:
- Family/loved ones
- Primary care physician (PCP)
- Certified diabetes educator (CDE)
- Mental health professional (psychologist, licensed professional counselor, licensed clinical social worker)
- Medical specialists (endocrinologist, gynecologist, cardiologist, nephrologist, podiatrist, dentist, etc.)
- Insurance plan/finances
- Most important…YOU…the leader!!
As the CEO of your team, you have a lot of responsibilities:
- Be assertive when needed – continue to ask questions if something does not make sense, you have a right to know.
- Insist on eye contact – computers are undoubtedly present in your exchanges with healthcare providers. Keeping and maintaining eye contact can be tricky, but doing so, will help you get more out of your visit.
- Be knowledgeable about your insurance/pharmacy plan - have quick access to your drug formulary (on your phone if possible) and savings programs. It is impossible for a healthcare provider to be aware of the in’s and out’s of each insurance plan’s formulary, as they are all unique and constantly changing. Prescribing providers often are not aware they are prescribing a medication that is much more expensive for you compared to another comparable, cheaper product. Learn about the tier-system that insurance companies use in reference to medication pricing.
- Keep track of important data such as lab data, vaccines, annual visits, etc. – check out DiabetesSisters’ worksheet that you can download to make it easier.
- Be honest of about feelings, side effects, stress, ability to carry out treatment plan - as this will only help you out in the long run and let you be more successful in your healthcare goals. Your team will keep doing the same thing unless you say something.
- Seek out help from other resources - such as the diabetes online community (DOC), DPAC, DiabetesSisters, AADE, ADA, etc.
Putting together the best board can help you achieve your health goals. You put these boards together with the best intentions, but sometimes a member does not work out as well as you want. That person may be great, but just is not the right member for your team. In these instances, it is 100% okay for you to find a replacement. It can be very common to need to find a replacement for a prescribing member of your team, such as a PCP, endocrinologist, etc. By keeping members on your team, year-after-year, who are not providing you with exceptional care can negatively affect your health. You may no longer be communicating effectively and have likely put your health on the back burner. Having a collaborative board keeps the CEO (aka you) on her toes and helps to keep her accountable. It is not about how many providers you have tried in the position, but finding the ones that help achieve your goals.
Nicole M. Bereolos, PhD, MPH, CDE is a clinical health psychologist and certified diabetes educator living in North Texas. She works in private practice focusing on helping those living with chronic medical conditions live fuller lives. Originally from Illinois, she has been married since 2003 and has one child. She enjoys traveling and cooking and has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1992.