To manage diabetes, glucose must be kept at a near normal level. For a comprehensive picture on blood sugar levels, a glycated hemoglobin lab test called HbA1c is required. This blood test determines the average glucose level over a three-month period, giving a more accurate picture than an at-home finger-stick test. It’s recommended that diabetics have the HbA1c test performed twice every year.
In 2000, the Coalition’s Diabetes Task Force became concerned over this issue because 40% of commercially insured diabetes patients in Genesee County had not received an HbA1c test.
The Task Force embarked on a campaign to increase awareness of the test and set a goal that all diabetic patients should have had at least one test in the past year. Targeting the African American community, the outreach campaign included articles in newspapers, meetings with the media, and events at local area churches. Physicians received diabetes information, HbA1c patient education order forms, and Continuing Medical Education (CME) training sessions.
The campaign’s results were very promising. According to statistics from HealthPlus of Michigan and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, HbA1c testing had increased plan-wide from 67.9% in 2001 to 76.8% in 2003, while monitoring for kidney disease had increased from 23.8% in 2001 to 32.4% in 2003.