Preventing and controlling diabetes in the workforce has become a top priority for many companies, especially those with employees who must pass medical certification requirements.
A workplace diabetes education program can be instrumental in helping employees reach goals such as losing weight, preventing a diagnosis of diabetes or improving the outcomes of their conditions.
Jennifer A. Markee, LMSW, CDE, and Certified Diabetes Educator with BarnesCare says that many patients need more than just traditional diabetes care, especially those with type II diabetes or pre-diabetes who make up the vast majority of the current diabetes “epidemic.” These patients benefit greatly from lifestyle and behavior changes, she says, and the best time to reach them is during the workday.
“Diabetes self-management doesn’t just happen in the hours at home and off work,” she says. “To be successful, individuals must learn how to incorporate the healthiest lifestyle and eating habits into all aspects of daily life.”
This approach can also benefit employers, who end up spending millions to pay for workers suffering from diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that diabetes costs about $176 billion in direct medical expenses. “And that doesn’t cover indirect costs like absenteeism and disability,” says Markee.
For example, the Department of Transportation (DOT) certification requires some commercial drivers to submit A1c lab tests, which indicate how well a person is controlling their disease. In some cases, the DOT limits or denies certification to drivers whose diabetes isn’t controlled. Thorough education coupled with an understanding of how to incorporate healthy behaviors into their lives can help people maintain their livelihood.
"Learning the ways to control diabetes effectively allows each employee the opportunity to determine their own health outcomes," says Markee.