Background: The quality of care for diabetes continues to fall short of recommended guidelines and results. Models for improving the care of chronic illnesses advocate a multidisciplinary team approach. Yet little is known about the effectiveness of such models in an academic setting with a diverse patient population and resident physicians participating in clinical care.
Objective: To implement a chronic illness management (CIM) practice within an academic setting with part-time providers, and evaluate its impact on the completion of diabetes-specific care processes and on the achievement of recommended outcomes for patients with diabetes mellitus.
Design: Retrospective cohort study
Subjects: Patients with the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus who receive their primary care in an academic general internal medicine resident-faculty practice.
Measurements: Process and outcomes measures in patients exposed to the CIM practice were compared with non-exposed patients receiving usual care.
Main results: Five hundred and sixty-five patients met inclusion criteria. Patients in the CIM practice experienced a significant increase in completion of care processes compared to control patients for measurement of annual low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (OR 3.1, 95% CI 1.7-5.7), urine microalbumin (OR 3.3, 95% CI 2.1-5.5), blood pressure (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1-2.8), retinal examination (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.3-2.7), foot monofilament examination (OR 4.2, 95% CI 3.0-6.1) and administration of pneumococcal vaccination (OR 5.2, 95% CI 3.0-9.3). CIM-exposed patients were also more likely to achieve improvements in clinical outcomes of glycemic and blood pressure control reflected by hemoglobin A1c less than 7.0% (OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.02-3) and blood pressure less than 130/80 (OR 2.8, 95% CI 2.1-4.5) compared to controls.
Conclusions: A systematic chronic care model can be successfully integrated into an academic general internal medicine practice and may result in improved processes of care and some clinical outcomes for diabetic patients. This study provides a model for further hypothesis generation and more rigorous testing of the quality benefits of structured chronic illness care in diverse outpatient practices.