Americans with diabetes reach 21 million

About 21 million American adults had diabetes as of 2010, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The findings could impact hospitals' newly prioritized battle for population health.

Diabetes prevalence increased substantially over the past 20 years, researchers from Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University, and the National Institutes of Health, found. However, the proportion of undiagnosed diabetes cases decreased to 11 percent between 2005 and 2010, suggesting improved screening and diagnosis, according to the study.

Non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican-Americans are among the populations with growing proportions of diabetes, according to the study. Ten percent of Latino adults have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or "prediabetes," a stage that often goes undetected, FierceHealthcare previously reported.  

As population health becomes more of a concern among industry leaders, hospitals increasingly emphasize prevention and management of chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Some patient-centered medical homes employ care managers to help high-risk diabetes patients, which resulted in lower mortality rates and improved outcomes among those patients when it came to A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In the U.K., specialist nurses help patients independently manage their blood sugar levels.

Hospitals can also turn to social media to help combat chronic illness. Social media helps providers develop meaningful relationships that provide emotional support for patients with chronic conditions, establish communities among caregivers, patients and families, and empowers patients to achieve their objectives with online peer support.

To learn more:
- here's the study abstract