In the U.S., where the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, many patients with this disease are treated by primary care physicians in community based systems, including accountable care organisations (ACOs). To address gaps in the quality of diabetes care, national quality measures have been established, including patient centered measures adopted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for its Shared Savings Program for ACOs.
From a patient centered perspective, high quality diabetes care depends on effective communication between clinicians and patients, along with patient education and counselling about medications and lifestyle. We designed and implemented a quality improvement (QI) program for 30 primary care physicians treating patients with type 2 diabetes in three structurally similar but geographically diverse ACOs. Retrospective chart audits were conducted before (n = 300) and after (n = 300) each physician participated in accredited continuing medical education (CME) courses that focused on QI strategies. Randomly selected charts were audited to measurably assess essential interventions for improved outcomes in type 2 diabetes including the physicians’ documentation of patient counselling and assessment of side effects, and patients’ medication adherence status and changes in hemoglobin A1C (A1C) and body mass index (BMI). Paced educational interventions included a private performance improvement Internet live course conducted for each physician, small group Internet live courses involving peer discussion, and a set of enduring materials, which were also multi accredited for all clinicians in the physician’s practice. Continual improvement cycles were guided by analysis of the baseline chart audits, quantitative survey data, and qualitative feedback offered by participants. To extend the benefit of the education, the enduring materials were offered to the interprofessional team of clinicians throughout the U.S. who did not participate in the QI program. For brevity, this article presents outcomes of the 30 primary care physicians.
Baseline to post education improvements were observed for percentages of charts with documented assessment of medication side effects (+11%) and counselling about medication risks/benefits (+28%), medication adherence (+13%), and lifestyle modifications (+8%). Improvements were also observed for documented adherence to diabetes medications (+24%) and first-to-last-visit changes in A1C (-0.16%) and BMI (-2.1). The findings indicate a positive influence of QI education on primary care physicians’ performance of patient centered quality measures and patient outcomes.
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