New ‘Top Docs’ show addresses efforts to prevent diabetes in Georgia  

Allison Smith, MPH, CHES, discusses the Georgia Department of Public Health’s (DPH) efforts to expand the ‘Diabetes Prevention Program’ (DPP) in the state on the latest edition of the Medical Association of Georgia’s (MAG) ‘Top Docs Radio’ show.     

“The Georgia Department of Public Health is committed to reducing the considerable burden that is associated with diabetes and prediabetes,” explains Smith, DPH’s diabetes and vision program manager. “And we are doing that in an integrated way, including raising awareness and increasing the availability of coverage, screening, testing, and referrals to recognized DPP in the state.” 

Smith explains that, “The DPP is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recognized, evidence-based, lifestyle change intervention program that helps to reduce an individual’s risk for developing diabetes. It is designed to help individuals who are diagnosed with prediabetes or who are at elevated risk of developing diabetes.” 

The DPP’s main component is a year-long “lifestyle change” program that is facilitated by a trained lifestyle coach using a CDC-approved curriculum. It consists of 16 hour-long weekly sessions that are followed by monthly maintenance sessions for six months. DPH supports physicians and allied health care providers with a variety of diabetes screening and testing and referral resources. 

Smith notes that, “Our goal is to assist participants with prediabetes to lose five to seven percent of their body weight and to increase and sustain their physical activity at 150 minutes each week. DPH also supports the program with technical assistance and lifestyle coach training.”

Smith also points out that, “There are currently just 35 DPP in Georgia – keeping in mind that there are more than 2.5 million adults who have prediabetes in the state. We want to increase the number of programs in the state. You also have to remember that most of these programs are in the metro Atlanta area, with the largest need in the southern region of the state.”

And Smith says that, “DPH also wants to secure at least three employers, either public or private, to begin providing DPP as a covered benefit – knowing that CDC has estimated that the medical costs for a patient who has been diagnosed with diabetes is more than $6,000 in the first year and nearly $4,000 a year thereafter.” 

Physicians and office managers should also note that Smith reports that, “Practices are able to bill for this program. As of April of this year, they are able to bill through Medicare. But keep in mind that it is the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, so it's a separate Medicare application than practices normally bill through. But practices can get reimbursed approximately $600 per patient for over two years – although they are not able to bill up front the first year. Once a site becomes a preliminary or fully-recognized Diabetes Prevention Program, the organization will be able to bill for services."

Finally, Smith emphasizes that, “We are striving to have every Georgian be screened for prediabetes (based on the current guidelines) and to refer those patients who have prediabetes or who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes to a DPP program.” 

Physicians and practice staff can contact Smith at Allison.Smith@dph.ga.gov.  

In related news, the American Medical Association and the CDC are encouraging physicians to take advantage of a ‘Prevent Diabetes STAT’ website, preventdiabetesstat.org, which features a variety of resources – including sample referral forms, details on CPT and ICD codes, identification algorithms, and patient education.

MAG sponsors two ‘Top Docs Radio’ episodes per month. Between downloads and live listeners, the program has reached more than 190,000 listeners – which includes people in all 50 states and more than 80 countries.    

MAG’s ‘Top Docs Radio’ show is supported with a grant from Health Care Research, a subsidiary of Alliant Health Solutions.  

Click for Georgia DPH ‘Diabetes’ web page

Click for CDC ‘National Diabetes Prevention Program’ web page

Click for AMA/CDC ‘Prevent Diabetes STAT’ website