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Issue 143 Item 7 Physician Group Develops Diabetes Management Tools

Feb 12, 2003

A “report card” to help patients with diabetes better manage their disease was developed by The National Association of Managed Care Physicians. See this weeks: Tools For Your Practice (Main page of DIC) Diabetes Patient Report Card

The association also said it has created an "audit tool" for physicians to assess the care they provide their diabetic patients.


Both instruments are part of an effort by the NAMCP to offer tools for managing chronic conditions. Future report cards may target asthma and congestive heart failure, for example.

Diabetes, one of the fastest growing epidemics in the nation, affects an estimated 17 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association.

NAMCP hopes "to empower the patient to take an active role in their care and move toward accountability on the patient side," said Dr. Bill Williams, executive vice president of the Glen Allen, Virginia-based association, whose members include medical directors and physicians involved in various healthcare delivery systems.

The report card allows patients to track key measures of their health over time, including spaces for recording hemoglobin A1 levels (a measure of blood sugar control), the presence of protein in urine samples, LDL or "bad" cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index and flu shots. Patients also may keep a log of their exercise activity.

The physician audit tool guides doctors through a self-assessment of the care their office provided to diabetic patients. The audit is based on 25 randomly selected patient medical records. For each patient, it assesses several measures, such as whether a hemoglobin A1c test was done, the result of that test, and whether an eye exam was given in the last 24 months.

Physicians are coming to accept such "care management" tools, and many now believe they have a positive impact on the practice of medicine, the Center for Studying Health System Change, a Washington-based think tank, reported last month.

Another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a link between physicians’ use of care management techniques for specific chronic conditions and certain quality-of-care incentives but said physicians rarely receive such incentives.

In the future, physicians will be able to show managed care plans the quality-of-care they provide chronic care patients by tracking their performance, Dr. Williams said. If they manage care appropriately, the plan will save on the cost of avoidable hospitalizations and emergency room visits, for instance, freeing up money to pay doctors and invest in patient care, he explained.

With the appropriate care management, "There’s plenty of money to pay incentives to physicians and do creative things for patients," he said.

Both tools are available on the association’s Web site or click below

Diabetes Patient Report Card

Diabetes Physician Audit Tool