Jul 19, 2023
Empowering People: ADA and DaVita Discuss Education, Resources and Opportunities to Promote Better Health

In July 2022, the American Diabetes Association® (ADA), in collaboration with DaVita, launched a new kidney disease education resource, Living With Diabetes: Kidney Care. Since the digital experience was introduced, more than 160,000 users have taken advantage of the resources to better understand their risk for experiencing kidney disease and adapting healthy steps to help protect their health while living with diabetes. More than 20,000 have also downloaded the Diabetes and Kidney-Friendly Cookbook, created by dietitians across both organizations.

As the one-year anniversary of Living With Diabetes: Kidney Care approaches, Dr. Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer for the ADA, and Tina Livaudais, chief nursing officer for DaVita, weigh in on how the two organizations seek to accomplish through their work together.

Why did DaVita and the ADA decide to work together and what makes this collaboration powerful?

Livaudais: One of our goals at DaVita is to help not just our patients, but also all people at risk for kidney disease live their fullest lives. To do this, we have to reach at-risk people before they need dialysis. We know that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease with more than half of people living with kidney failure also having diabetes.

Diabetes is nearly three times as common among people with CKD as those without CKD. And nearly 60% of people with kidney failure also have diabetes.

Sure, providing dialysis is a part of what we do. But it’s not everything! We’re so determined to reach at-risk people so they can prevent kidney disease and avoid dialysis entirely. A big part of this is working with organizations, like the ADA, to make a difference for people living with a high risk of kidney disease and kidney failure. 

Collaborating with the ADA gives us an incredible opportunity to increase awareness and help connect the dots between diabetes and kidney disease for health care professionals and those who have diabetes. By working together, we are empowering people to better manage their health.

Gabbay: Understanding the connection between diabetes and kidney health is a critical first step to preventing and managing diabetes-related kidney problems. Partnering with DaVita helps spread this message, allowing us to reach more of those living with diabetes who are at risk. It is powerful to have two organizations working together to achieve a common goal and provide resources to those in our communities.

What was the key goal in developing the Living With Diabetes: Kidney Care digital experience?

Gabbay: We created this interactive, online experience to meet people wherever they are on their diabetes care journey and deliver information that’s targeted to their specific needs.

Livaudais: Education is empowerment. Our relationship with the ADA is all about helping people take an active role in managing their health care—understanding how and why it’s important to manage your diabetes to promote better health overall, and specifically for your kidneys.

Once people have gone through the Living With Diabetes: Kidney Care, we hope people are better equipped to take steps to actively protect their kidney health. People who access the ADA’s resource can then build on what they’ve learned by attending a Kidney Smart® class. These no-cost classes provide additional information about kidney health and practical advice on conversations with doctors, nutritional needs and education on treatment options for people who may need a kidney transplant or dialysis.

Providing education is so important, but our two organizations want to be sure we’re providing resources that can actually be used by those that need it. This is why it’s so great that Kidney Smart is available in 14 different languages.

Education is such a key component of this collaboration: How else have the ADA and DaVita worked to educate people? 

Livaudais: Exactly. Education is a huge part of what we do with the ADA. We want to empower people through education so they have what they need to have important conversations with their doctors and take steps in their day-to-day lives that support their health.

I also love the opportunities I’ve had with Dr. Gabbay to lead live, online conversations about diabetes management and kidney health. Digital events like these allow us to field questions from those who need the guidance most. One standout moment during a digital event happened recently. A patient advocate who has diabetes and experienced kidney failure also joined us. To me, I think it’s one thing to hear about diabetes and kidney disease theoretically. But, it’s a whole other experience to hear from someone who has lived it and can speak to the day-to-day experience. I know the team has plans to host even more of these events to continue to inform and educate.

Gabbay: The ADA has been excited to get the word out about the tools that are available for those living with diabetes and managing their kidney health at the same. One of the ways to help make this journey easier for people with diabetes is through our collaboration with DaVita to provide free cookbooks that have recipes created by dieticians who specialize in diabetes and kidney disease. This information helps share ways to achieve a healthy diet, which can be key to avoiding kidney complications.

"If we can prevent some of the major complications that happen with diabetes, just think of the difference that would make in so many lives."

– Dr. Robert Gabbay
American Diabetes Association

Together, we are creating awareness of Kidney Smart to our community. This no-cost program has successfully educated 290,000 people on many of the crucial aspects of living with diabetes and kidney disease

How is increased focus on prevention beneficial to society and the broader health care system?

Gabbay: The American Diabetes Association has always been a champion for the prevention of complications from living with diabetes, and the prevention of kidney disease is a major, and life-altering, complication that we’d love to help people avoid if they can. If we can prevent some of the major complications that happen with diabetes, just think of the difference that would make in so many lives.  If we can give people the tools to manage their diabetes, we can help prevent so many health complications, and even save lives in the end.

Livaudais: DaVita is aligned with the ADA on their goals. We’re invested in providing care across the entire kidney care continuum to help our patients experience a fuller, better life. There are many people at risk for kidney disease or living with it and don’t know it. This is why we’re so committed to reaching more than just those within our center walls and providing them with tools and resources to take charge of their own health.

Chronic Disease Awareness Day happened this month, too. What makes this an important day to recognize?

Gabbay: To increase awareness of chronic illnesses is crucial to helping people know the signs and symptoms of some of the deadliest disease afflicting our communities.  If we can get people to be more aware of these signs and symptoms and have the appropriate screening tests, maybe we can prevent many of the complications that occur with poor management of diabetes. There are so many tools available to people living with diabetes, and if we can just spread  the word about programs such as Kidney Smart classes and our free cookbooks, maybe we can make a dent in the number of complications that can adversely affect people, and entire families.  

Livaudais: So many of the people we care for at DaVita are not just managing kidney disease. In fact, people with kidney failure often have as many as four comorbid conditions. This means they navigate a multitude of specialty doctor appointments, medications and lifestyle needs—all of this on top of their day-to-day worries about their health. There’s a lot of information out there, and we totally recognize it can be really overwhelming. By working together, the ADA and DaVita are looking to take pretty complex information that could leave people feeling defeated and turn it into knowledge they can use that helps them enjoy a better quality of life.

About the American Diabetes Association

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. For 82 years, the ADA has driven discovery and research to treat, manage, and prevent diabetes while working relentlessly for a cure. Through advocacy, program development, and education we aim to improve the quality of life for the over 133 million Americans living with diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes has brought us together. What we do next will make us Connected for Life®. To learn more or to get involved, visit us at diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Join the fight with us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Spanish Facebook (Asociación Americana de la Diabetes), LinkedIn (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn), and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn).