Aims: To study the time and cost involved in the care of newly registered outpatients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), compared with patients with hypertension and/or hyperlipidaemia (HTL).
Methods: A total of 313 patients with DM and 58 patients with HTL without diabetes were registered on their first visits to 11 diabetes clinics across Japan. The time and cost involved in their care was recorded over the following 5 months.
Results: In the first 3 months, there was an extensive time commitment to both groups. The time spent by physicians was 1.5 times longer for DM than for HTL. The total care time spent by all the care providers for DM was twice that for HTL. The cost of DM care was twice that for HTL, with the cost of medicines excluded. However, half of the cost for DM was for laboratory tests. When these were excluded, and the remaining cost divided by the time spent, the amount for DM was half of that for HTL. Over the 5 months, mean glycated haemoglobin (HbA(1c)) in DM patients improved from 8.0% to 6.5%, and 72% of DM patients achieved the glycaemic target of HbA(1c) < or = 6.5%.
Conclusions: DM care in a diabetes clinic requires a great deal more time and resources than HTL to achieve the best outcome. An educational system for self care, presently lacking in the primary care setting in Japan, would improve glycaemic control for DM patients in the community.