An innovative approach being pioneered by Hamad Medical Corporation’s Internal Medicine Clinic is improving health outcomes for patients with type 2 diabetes.
As part of the Shared Medical Appointments initiative, type 2 diabetic patients receiving care at the Internal Medicine Clinic meet once a month for a six-month period, known as a cycle, to discuss and learn about diabetic care and how the disease impacts their overall health.
The initiative, which is a clinician-led support group, is designed to help patients better manage their blood sugar levels, and in turn their diabetes, by providing accurate information, adequate tools, and the support needed to live well with diabetes.
“We introduced this initiative in 2016 as a unique approach to providing care to patients with type 2 diabetes. We created groups of 10 to 12 patients who would meet monthly to discuss themes relevant to their condition, such as diet, exercise, medication management, health tips for safe fasting during Ramadan and anything else we, or they, felt was relevant. Interactive group discussions are facilitated by physicians, diabetes educators, and dietitians, and usually last between one to two hours,” said Dr Nasseer Masoodi, vice chair, Medicine and lead physician for the programme.
To date, the results have been extremely positive. More than 35 patients have completed the programme, with a number of them reporting a noticeable drop in their blood sugar levels and an overall improvement in their general health.
Dr Aisha al-Kubaisi, consultant, Medicine at HMC, said support groups can reinforce proper self-care and offer important social support. She noted that individuals are often more able, and willing, to manage chronic conditions when they have consistent contact with peers who can provide practical and emotional support.
“We measure each participant’s blood sugar level at the start of each cycle, three months into the cycle, and when the cycle ends so we are able to compare blood sugar levels at each stage of the cycle for any notable changes. We usually see a significant drop in blood sugar as the cycle progresses, highlighting the positive benefits of the initiative,” said Dr al- Kubaisi.
Prof Abdul-Badi Abou-Samra, chairman, Department of Internal Medicine, said the programme is one of the first of its kind in the country and possibly the region. He said the programme’s approach is in line with the provision of a patient-centred model of care that aims to empower patients to be active participants in their own care, as outlined in the National Health Strategy.
“This initiative is unique. It brings patients with diabetes together and allows them to focus on concerns and questions relevant to their health and current living situation. Participants discuss problem-based issues, share experiences, and try to identify solutions to pressing diabetes management issues,” Prof Abou-Samra added.
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