As part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) ongoing effort to improve veterans’ access to healthcare, VA is announcing the launch of a national Hypoglycemic Safety Initiative (HSI) to encourage veterans with diabetes receiving VA care to seek support to lower the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The new initiative will enable veterans living with diabetes to work more closely with their VA clinicians to personalize healthcare goals and improve self-management of the disease.
“The Hypoglycemic Safety Initiative is designed to enable veterans and their families, partners, and caregivers to create a personal plan for blood sugar management based upon the veteran’s unique health goals,” said Carolyn Clancy, MD, interim under secretary for health. “Our objective is to change how diabetes is managed in VA and the United States, and to help patients improve their personal well-being, not just manage their numbers.”
Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases among older Americans, with one in four veterans suffering from the disease. Recent clinical studies indicate that when diet, exercise, and stress reduction are not successful, the benefits of achieving intensive blood sugar control with medication are less effective. This is especially true for hypoglycemic agents (pills or insulin) used for those patients who have had diabetes for many years and those who have additional serious health conditions.
HSI’s key elements emphasize shared decision-making and universal health literacy to ensure veterans understand the health information provided by their VA healthcare team. This includes the “teach back method” where veterans and their caregivers are asked questions to be certain they understand and can act on key elements of self-management, including diet, exercise, glucose monitoring, managing medications, and insulin injections. The focus of the HSI is to help raise awareness among patients who may be at risk.
For more information about VA healthcare, please visit www.va.gov/health.
This article was adapted from information provided by VA.