'Medical home' physician model can improve outcomes for type-2 diabetes patients

When it comes to healthcare for type 2 diabetes, quality may win out over quantity or frequency, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) report that doctors who create a "medical home" for their patients - by being accessible in person and by phone, developing ongoing relationships with patients, and being proactive in coordinating care - have a better chance of improving the health of their type-2 diabetes patients.

According to the researchers, health outcomes for diabetes patients can be vastly improved with some small changes to how doctors deliver care in primary settings.

Quality of life

Over 500 Medicaid patients with type 2 diabetes in Los Angeles were included in the study. The subjects were asked to describe the care they received from their physicians and also their quality of life.

Results showed that patients who had "medical home" doctors reported better quality of life. And for every 25-percent increase in medical home performance, patients reported a health improvement comparable to the elimination of one of the complications of diabetes.

The study found the effect was strongest in women, who might benefit more from doctors who are more accessible and invested in their care.

"I think primary care doctors have the tools they need to deliver more patient-focused care," said study author Gregory Stevens, Ph.D., associate professor of family medicine and preventive medicine at USC. "But our country also needs to support their efforts by training more primary care doctors in this model, rewarding doctors who adopt it, and ultimately reducing the incredible time pressure on doctors."

The study is published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Source: USC

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