Investing in quality of care for diabetic patients reduces costs

August 06, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS (August 6, 2012) - University of Minnesota School of Public Health researchers have found that medical group practices can reduce costs for patients with diabetes by investing in improved quality of care.

In the study, which appears in the August issue of Health Affairs, University of Minnesota researchers analyzed 234 medical group practices providing care for more than 133,000 diabetic patients. After developing a "quality of care" score based on select patient care initiatives, researchers found that medical providers saved an average of $51 in health care costs per diabetic patient for every one-percentage-point increase in their quality of care score.

"Our research should be reassuring for physicians who are joining (or forming) value-based Accountable Care Organizations," said the study's lead author John E. Kralewski, senior research fellow at the Medica Research Institute and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "Our data show that they can provide high quality care while meeting the cost savings expectations of ACOs. Moreover, our study supports the contention that health care reform initiatives can reduce costs without eroding quality of care. Our data indicate that higher quality is one way to reduce costs."

According to researchers, near-term cost savings resulted, in part, from decreased inappropriate emergency department use and decreased avoidable hospital admissions, such as cholesterol screenings.
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The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Care Financing and Organization Program.

About the School of Public Health

For more than 60 years, the University of Minnesota School of Public Health has been among the top accredited schools of public health in the nation. With a mission focused on research, teaching, and service, the school attracts nearly $100 million in sponsored research each year, has more than 100 faculty members and more than 1,300 students, and is engaged in community outreach activities locally, nationally and in dozens of countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.sph.umn.edu. The School's Centers for Public Health Education and Outreach promotes lifelong learning to bridge academic and public health practice communities.

University of Minnesota Academic Health Center

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