Patient centered medical homes reduce costs and improve outcomes for type 2 diabetics, study finds

Anyone who suffers from type 2 diabetes knows that it can be an extremely expensive condition to live with. The frequent testing and constant need to take medications drive up costs significantly. Additionally, the complications that often occur add fuel to an already incendiary situation.

However, researchers from Penn State University recently reported in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety that a new care model may help more diabetics reach their treatment goals while reducing their cost of care.

The patient centered medical home has received much attention lately. Experts believe that it could be an important model of care in the future, as studies have shown that the personal attention it affords patients helps them take better care of themselves, which leads to better outcomes and lower costs.

The researchers found that when this model is applied to individuals with type 2 diabetes, the results are impressive. The team studied the progress of diabetic patients being treated at 25 practices in Pennsylvania that operate as patient centered medical homes. The results showed that these patients were more likely to meet goals for weight loss and were less likely to become sick or die during the study period.

Furthermore, these patients had lower LDL cholesterol levels, better blood sugar control and lower blood pressure. The number of patients who met self-management goals increased to 70 percent. The researchers said these improvements could lead to significant cost reductions in the care of diabetics.

"Diabetes is one of the most costly of chronic diseases, accounting for $174 billion in medical care each year in the United States, with the cost of care for patients with diabetes averaging 2.3 times higher than similar patients without diabetes," said Robert Gabbay, MD, PhD, the lead investigator.

He added that the ability of patient centered medical homes to curb this type of cost increase among individuals with type 2 diabetes could make it a very attractive care model in the future, when significantly more people are expected to suffer from the chronic condition.