Objective: To describe the results of longitudinal assessment of the results of a disease management process developed in a large integrated health care system that successfully improved care for patients with diabetes. Outcome measures included rates of testing of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), rate of annual eye exams, and LDL and HbA1c values.
Methods: Intermountain Health Care (IHC) initiated the development of a Diabetes Care Management System (DCMS) in early 1998. The DCMS was developed as a comprehensive population-based disease management system. It includes provider education programs; performance feedback to physicians; clinical quality performance incentives for physicians; patient education programs; patient incentive, reminder systems to encourage compliance with best care process models; and tracking of physician behavior change and patient compliance with diabetes therapy. A multifaceted intervention and education approach was chosen because of the complexity of the diabetes treatment process.
Results: The percentage of patients with at least one annual HbA1c test increased from 78.5% in 1998 to 90.5% in 2002. During the same time period, the percentage of patients whose most recent HbA1c was less than 7.0 increased from 33.5% to 52.8%, average HbA1c decreased from 8.1 to 7.3, and the percentage of patients whose most recent HbA1c was greater than 9.5 decreased from 34.6% to 21.4%. The percentage of patients who had an LDL cholesterol screening test within the prior 2 years increased from 65.9% in 1998 to 91.7% in 2002. During the same time period, the percentage of patients whose most recent LDL cholesterol was less than 130 mg/dL increased from 39.9% to 69.8%. The percentage of diabetes patients who had an annual eye exam increased from 52% in 1998 to 62% in 2002.
Conclusion: A multifaceted approach to improving diabetes management has led to improved performance in clinical measures related to diabetes care that have been shown to reduce the risk of patients with diabetes developing diabetes- related complications. All components of the diabetes management continuum of care, including primary care physicians, specialists, office staff, patients, diabetes educators, and others, were involved in the care improvement activities.