Provider sweetens its offerings

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

LYNBROOK, N.Y. - In an effort to set itself apart, Diabetics Limited is offering nutritional counseling alongside test strips and meters.
"We're trying to be an all encompassing provider, as far as supplies and nutrition go," said Barbara Sirota, president of the nine-year-old mail order company. "We need to get this disease under control because it's so rampant, not just diabetes, but the pre-diabetics as well."
In December, Sirota hired Ellen Driscoll, a registered dietician with 20 years of experience, who is also a certified diabetes educator, to educate clients on the role nutrition plays in maintaining healthy blood sugars.
"I find that a lot of patients don't understand a lot about nutrition and the way carbohydrate intake affects blood sugars," said Driscoll.
The company mailed questionnaires to its 300 customers about their height, weight, medications, eating habits and blood sugars, as well as any questions they may have. Driscoll will then set phone appointments to provide one-on-one help with patients, many of whom struggle with diabetes management. Sometimes, just taking the time to talk helps the patient, she says.
"People appreciate when you take the time to listen to what their day-to-day is like," said Driscoll. "You help them try to take the next step and figure out how to make it better."
Sirota has also ramped up efforts to increase her referral base, calling on podiatrists and conducting health fairs to screen people for diabetes. She is also targeting assisted living facilities and senior communities.
"I can't compete with (the nationals), but I can open up a window of opportunity in my small business," said Sirota. "We have to do something that's a little different."
Most private insurance offers coverage for medical nutrition therapy, but for now the service is free. Diabetics Limited carries strips, meters, lancets, socks and some accessories.