Introduction: In British Columbia, Aboriginal diabetes prevalence, hospitalization and mortality rates are all more than twice as high as in the rest of the population. We describe and evaluate a program to improve access to diabetes care for Aboriginal people in northern communities.
Study design: Cost-effectiveness evaluation.
Methods: A diabetes nurse educator and an ophthalmic technician travel to Aboriginal reserves, offering people with diabetes services recommended in current clinical practice guidelines: retinopathy screening by digital retinal fundus photography, glaucoma screening by tonometry, point-of-care urine and blood testing to detect microalbuminuria and dyslipidemia and to measure glycated hemoglobin, foot examinations and foot care advice, blood pressure and height and weight measurement and diabetes care advice. Via electronic communication, an ophthalmologist and an endocrinologist in Vancouver review the findings and supervise the mobile clinic staff.
Results: During the first year, 25 clinics were held at 22 sites, examining 339 clients with diabetes. Exit surveys showed high levels of client satisfaction. Mean cost per client (Cdn dollars 1,231) was less than for the alternative, transporting clients to care in the nearest cities (Cdn dollars 1,437).
Conclusions: The mobile clinic is cost-effective and improves access to the recommended standard of diabetes care.