Background: Diabetes is a devastating chronic disease. Although optimal diabetes control reduces chronic complications, actual provision of diabetes care frequently falls short of accepted guidelines. We wanted to determine whether locally developed diabetes care initiatives can result in improvements in the provision of diabetes care.
Methods: This study was a retrospective cohort analysis using Medicare claims and chart abstraction data to ascertain diabetes care indicator utilization rates at the Northeast Iowa Family Practice Clinic (NEIFPC), which serves as the training site for the Northeast Iowa Family Practice Residency Program. Diabetic patients receiving care at the NEIFPC during 1996, 1997, and 1998 were included. Diabetes care rates are compared with those of other Iowa practices. Diabetes initiatives included chart audits, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) measurement reminder cards, educational symposia, an endocrinology outreach clinic, resident elective rotations, diabetes flow sheet utilization, pharmacist interface, and nursing foot-examination preparations. The primary outcome was the utilization rate of accepted diabetes care indicators.
Results: Diabetic patients at NEIFPC had greater utilization of diabetes care indicators than did patients of Iowa collaborators in 1997 and 1998. NEIFPC patients had HbA1c levels measured more frequently in 1997 and 1998 (84% and 88%, respectively) than did patients of Iowa collaborators (49% and 41%, respectively) (P < .001). The mean 1997 and 1998 HbA1c levels of 7.32% and 7.25%, respectively, are impressive compared with that of Iowa collaborators (8.83% and 8.36%) (P < .001) and other published data (8.5%-10%). The percentage of NEIFPC patients with good glycemic control (HbA1c < 8%) was 75%, compared with the reported 50% of all US patients.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that multimodal diabetes care quality improvement initiatives, applied longitudinally, can result in significant improvements in the provision and documentation of diabetes care.