Programs for the Underserved

Programs for the Underserved

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Increasing Access Through Teleconferencing Technology

Teleconferencing technology has tremendous potential to reduce or eliminate the “diabetes education gap” in rural areas of Virginia. The same technology that makes it possible for physicians to diagnose and treat patients interactively through a remote video link is also adaptable, effective, and economical for patient and professional education purposes.

Map 1: Participating Sites in 2011Since 2006, the Virginia Center for Diabetes Professional Education (VCDPE) has offered diabetes patient self-management tele-education programs to Critical Access Hospitals (CAH’s), health districts, small rural hospitals, community health centers, and facilities for older citizens located in high diabetes risk areas of the state. This innovative educational initiative was accomplished using Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility (FLEX) Grant funding received from the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity. Partner programs and agencies included the University of Virginia Diabetes Education and Management Program (DEMP), the University of Virginia Office of Telemedicine, and the Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance.


In 2011, we expanded the area for participant programs and included, in addition to the Southwestern and Northern Neck areas of Virginia, the South Central area of Virginia.

We offered 2 programs in each of the months of May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December for a total of 16 programs and 36 hours of broadcasting. In the months of May, June, September, and October, a general introduction and overview of diabetes (“the Nuts and Bolts of Diabetes”) was offered, followed a week or two later by the basic nutrition program (“I Have Diabetes, Now What Do I Eat?”). In the months of July, August, November, and December, we introduced two new programs: “Understanding Your Diabetes Medications and Glucose Numbers” and a weight management program called “Eat Smart, Get Active”.


Overall, 19 sites participated in the programs for 2011. Participants again this year responded very favorably to the usefulness of all the class sessions with an average usefulness rating of 4.47 on a 1-5 scale. 

We more than doubled the number of participants from 179 in 2010 to 369 in 2011.

In addition, they reported that the instructors are very knowledgeable with good teaching skills and use of interactive teaching techniques (meal planning using plates and food models, demonstrating use of glucose log books, meters and insulin pens, and exercising with resistance bands).

Almost all (99%) of the participants who had diabetes responded that they felt they would be better able to manage their diabetes as a result of what they learned in the tele-education classes.

The full 2011 Final Report can be downloaded here.