Objective: We evaluated automated telephone disease management (ATDM) with telephone nurse follow-up as a strategy for improving diabetes treatment processes and outcomes in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics. We also compared the results with those of a prior ATDM trial conducted in a county health care system.
Research design and methods: A total of 272 VA patients with diabetes using hypoglycemic medications were randomized. During the 1-year study period, intervention patients received biweekly ATDM health assessment and self-care education calls, and a nurse educator followed up with patients based on their ATDM assessment reports. Telephone surveys were used to measure patients' self-care, symptoms, and satisfaction with care. Outpatient service use was evaluated using electronic databases and self-reports, and glycemic control was measured by HbA1c and serum glucose testing.
Results: At 12 months, intervention patients reported more frequent glucose self-monitoring and foot inspections than patients receiving usual care and were more likely to be seen in podiatry and diabetes specialty clinics. Intervention patients also were more likely than control patients to have had a cholesterol test. Among patients with baseline HbA1c levels > or =8%, mean end-point values were lower among intervention patients than control patients (8.7 vs. 9.2%, respectively; P = 0.04). Among intervention and control patients with baseline values > or =9%, mean end-point values were 9.1 and 10.2%, respectively (P = 0.04). At follow-up, intervention patients reported fewer symptoms of poor glycemic control than control patients and greater satisfaction with their health care.
Conclusions: This intervention improved the quality of VA diabetes care. Intervention effects for most end points replicated findings from the prior county clinic trial, although intervention-control differences in the current study were smaller because of the relatively good self-care and health status among the current study's enrollees.