Approximately 21 million Americans live with diabetes. Patients with diabetes who control their risk factors should be about to avoid adverse health outcomes, such as emergency room visits, hospitalizations, re-hospitalizations, intensive care stays and early death. But is that actually the case? A new study by several Mayo Clinic researchers utilized MN Community Measurement’s Optimal Diabetes Care measure results to better understand the relationship between optimal care and adverse health outcomes.
The study followed adult patients with Type 2 diabetes who received primary care services from the Employee and Community Health practice of Mayo Clinic-Rochester. Optimal diabetes control was defined by achieving the following three goals:
- Having LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, level of less than 100mg/dl
- Having blood pressure of less than 140/90 mmHg
- Having blood sugar (A1c) level of less than 8 percent
Patients who met all factors were deemed optimally controlled in the study; patients who didn’t meet all criteria were non-optimally controlled. Once designated to a category, the researchers evaluated the patients’ adverse health outcomes.
They observed that the risk of adverse health outcomes increased as the number of control goals achieved decreased. For example, patients who had one risk factor well controlled suffered higher mortality than patients with all three risk factors under control. The study found that patients whose diabetes was not well-controlled had higher risks for hospitalization, emergency room visits and early death than patients with optimal control. Similarly, patients whose diabetes was well-controlled were associated with decreased morbidity and mortality.
According to the researchers, the results provide potential evidence for the need for population health and care management of diabetes. The study also underscores the importance of health systems investing in processes to proactively manage at-risk patients and optimize population health.