Objective: To estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness of improving diabetes care with the Health Disparities Collaborative (HDC), a national collaborative quality improvement (QI) program conducted in community health centers (HCs).
Data sources/study setting: Data regarding the impact of the Diabetes HDC program came from a serial cross-sectional follow-up study (1998, 2000, 2002) of the program in 17 Midwestern HCs. Data inputs for the simulation model of diabetes came from the latest clinical trials and epidemiological studies.
Study design: We conducted a societal cost-effectiveness analysis, incorporating data from QI program evaluation into a Monte Carlo simulation model of diabetes.
Data collection/extraction methods: Data on diabetes care processes and risk factor levels were extracted from medical charts of randomly selected patients.
Principal findings: From 1998 to 2002, multiple processes of care (e.g., glycosylated hemoglobin testing [HbA1C] [71-->92 percent] and ACE inhibitor prescribing [33-->55 percent]) and risk factor levels (e.g., 1998 mean HbA1C 8.53 percent, mean difference 0.45 percent [95 percent confidence intervals -0.72, -0.17]) improved significantly. With these improvements, the HDC was estimated to reduce the lifetime incidence of blindness (17-->15 percent), end-stage renal disease (18-->15 percent), and coronary artery disease (28-->24 percent). The average improvement in quality-adjusted life year (QALY) was 0.35 and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was $33,386/QALY.
Conclusions: During the first 4 years of the HDC, multiple improvements in diabetes care were observed. If these improvements are maintained or enhanced over the lifetime of patients, the HDC program will be cost-effective for society based on traditionally accepted thresholds.