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11-12-2011 | Article

GP networks ‘improve diabetes care’

Abstract

Free abstract

Diabetes patients managed within primary care networks fare better than those managed outside such networks, a Canadian study suggests.

Primary care network management of diabetes was associated with a 19% relative reduction in admissions to hospital or visits to emergency departments for hypo- or hyperglycaemia, report Dr Braden Manns (University of Calgary, Alberta) and colleagues in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The study examined administrative healthcare data on patients in Alberta, where primary care networks were implemented in 2005. Such networks "are a newer model of primary care that focuses on improved access to care and the use of multidisciplinary teams for patients with chronic disease," explain the authors.

They compared outcomes for 77,830 diabetes patients managed in one of 18 primary care networks and 105,824 patients who received usual care.

After adjustment for propensity scores, network-managed patients were less likely than those who received usual care to be admitted to hospital or to visit an emergency department for a diabetes-specific condition over 1 year of follow-up, at an incidence risk ratio of 0.81.

However, this change represented a small absolute risk difference of 0.67 per 1000 patient-months, the authors note.

Network patients were also more likely to undergo laboratory investigations and retinal screening and had slightly lower mean glycated hemoglobin levels. Among those aged 66 years or older, network patients were more likely than others to receive statins.

Dr Manns et al remark: "Our population-based study reflects real-world experience with primary care networks in a large area served by a universal healthcare system, with careful assessment of both evidence- and process-based outcomes."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Joanna Lyford