The relationship between organizational systems and clinical quality in diabetes care

Am J Manag Care. 2004 Dec;10(12):934-44.


Objective: To assess the clinical quality of diabetes care and the systems of care in place in Medicare managed care organizations (MCOs) to determine which systems are associated with the quality of care.

Study design: Cross-sectional, observational study that included a retrospective review of 2001 diabetes Health Plan Employer and Data Information Set (HEDIS) measures and a mailed survey to MCOs.

Methods: One hundred and thirty-four plans received systems surveys. Data on clinical quality were obtained from HEDIS reports of diabetes measures.

Results: Ninety plans returned the survey. Composite diabetes quality scores (CDSs) were based on averaging scores for the 6 HEDIS diabetes measures. For the upper quartile of responding plans, the average score was 77.6. The average score for the bottom quartile was 53.9 (P < .001). The mean number of systems or interventions for the upper-quartile group and the bottom-quartile group was 17.5 and 12.5 (P < .01), respectively. There were significant differences in the 2 groups in the following areas: computer-generated reminders, physician champions, practitioner quality-improvement work groups, clinical guidelines, academic detailing, self-management education, availability of laboratory results, and registry use. After adjusting for structural and geographic variables, practitioner input and use of clinical-guidelines software remained as independent predictors of CDS. Structural variables that were independent predictors were nonprofit status and increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries in the MCO.

Conclusions: MCO structure and greater use of systems/interventions are associated with higher-quality diabetes care. These relationships require further exploration.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / diagnosis
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Benefit Plans, Employee / standards
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Managed Care Programs / organization & administration
  • Managed Care Programs / standards*
  • Medicare / standards
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Reminder Systems
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States
  • Vision Tests / statistics & numerical data


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Lipids