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Ruth Weinstock MD, PhD, is a SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, Division Chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism in the Department of Medicine at Upstate Medical University, Director of the Clinical Research Unit, and Medical Director of the Joslin at Upstate Medical University.
Dr. Weinstock’s career spans the course of 30 years, with clinical research, diabetes care, and training of next-generation diabetes providers. With over 200 research publications under her belt, she’s a wealth of information in the endocrine arena. Dr. Weinstock, the 2021 American Diabetes Association President of Medicine and Science, gave this presidential address at the recent Scientific Sessions.
Interview with Ruth Weinstock, MD, PhD
In this interview, Weinstock discusses her expertise in supporting people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and working to improve patient care through the T1D Exchange Quality Improvement Collaborative (T1DX-QI).
The T1DX-QI was established in 2016 — with the support of The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust — in an effort to refine best practices and improve daily life for people with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Growth has been tremendous, with 54 endocrine clinics from across the U.S. participating in the Collaborative.
Fueled by top leaders in diabetes care, the T1DX-QI has become an engine of innovation and inspiration. By engaging with the shared, data-driven, and systematic methods of the T1DX-QI, clinics have seen unprecedented success in their approach to diabetes management.
With members working closely together to identify gaps in care, discover and refine best practices, and share research — the process has become knowledge-sharing at its very best. While collated data gives clinics a clear sense of “where they are,” it also demonstrates “where they can be” by applying shared, evidence-based methods for improving care.
Career-long diabetes advancements
“I love what I do,” stated Dr. Weinstock, “I’ve been interested in medicine since I was a small girl.” When asked, “Why endocrinology?” She explained that her drive was cemented by bearing witness to the struggles a beloved cousin faced with T1D. Years later, Weinstock would indeed become a physician with a fellowship in endocrinology.
There’s been major advances in diabetes management, Dr. Weinstock explained. “When I entered medical school, there wasn’t blood glucose monitoring; we measured urine glucose. We didn’t have Insulin analogs that are more physiological; we had animal insulins.”
“Overall, tech has really helped people, especially with continuous glucose monitoring. There’s
new insulin delivery systems — including better insulin pumps — with automated insulin delivery, hybrid, closed-loop systems, and hopefully in the not-too-distant future, closed-loop systems.”
While there have been great advances, managing diabetes is still burdensome, and we don’t have prevention strategies or a cure, said Dr. Weinstock, who also pointed out that there’s a tremendous amount of research going on, with exciting possibilities for the future.
“We need strong advocacy so the federal government increases research funding and support for diabetes programs. I think the future has never been brighter, but we’re not there yet— we need more research.”
Dr. Weinstock has been pushing change forward through her clinical practice, trials and research, and involvement in the QIC. If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s her investment in improving the lives of people living with T1D.
“I believe in precision medicine,” explains Dr. Weinstock, “We want the right treatment to the right person at the right time. Not everyone’s diabetes is the same, so we need targeted therapies for treatment.”
Health disparities and diabetes
“The Collaborative is wonderful. It brings providers together from all over the country who have a passion to help people with diabetes,” said Dr. Weinstock. “It’s a place where intelligent ideas are born, tested, and shared. This helps everyone to do better.”
“We’ve made great strides helping providers to understand, explore, and discover better ways to deliver diabetes care — to benefit the greatest number of people.” However, disparities remain in the T1D community with regard to unmet healthcare needs, explained Dr. Weinstock. “I’m really proud that the Collaborative is attacking health disparities. We want everyone with T1D to get the best care they can to stay healthy.”
Dr. Weinstock explained that there are two main challenges: we need improved access and more diabetes research for prevention and curative therapies.
In-clinic quality improvements
Working with the Collaborative has emphasized quality improvement, and everyone from our clinic is involved, explained Dr. Weinstock. “We’re improving processes to take care of more people; we’ve gone from zero depression screenings to over 80 percent, improved CGM use, and our peds group has an initiative to decrease DKA admissions in a subset of children.”
“QI involves asking ourselves —how do we get to where we want to be? And this makes us better,” said Dr. Weinstock. “By looking at deidentified data and comparing ourselves with other places through a centralized portal, we can pinpoint areas to improve.”
“My involvement with the QIC has been very enriching — I’ve learned so much from my colleagues at different centers,” stated Dr. Weinstock, who went on to explain that part of this important work is to publish and share findings broadly so that everyone with T1D can benefit.
When Dr. Weinstock isn’t working, you’re likely to find her surrounded by four beautiful grandchildren, all under the age of five.
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