New healthcare model may improve well-being and treatment costs for individuals with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes

Many people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes know that the condition requires treatment from multiple medical specialists, including physicians, optometrists, podiatrists and dietitians.

Managing appointments with these experts and keeping track of their recommendations may be difficult for some patients to fit into their schedules.

However, a new type of healthcare model called the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) may allow multiple medical providers to offer collaborative care for their diabetic patients.

A recent study published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety found that PCMH models implemented in Pennsylvania increased the number of people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes who met their established diabetes management goals and also reduced the overall cost of care for individuals with these conditions.

"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, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of medicine at Penn State College of Medicine and director at Penn State Hershey Diabetes and Obesity Institute.

The researchers explained that PCMH encourages multiple insurance providers and healthcare practitioners to share patient information. This way, physicians may be able to recognize if an individual with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes is not keeping up with his or her eye- or foot-specialist appointments.

The study's results showed that the PCMH model improved patients' adherence to diabetes management guidelines and boosted their clinical outcomes, meaning that fewer individuals experienced disease-related complications. Furthermore, the findings indicated that there was an increase in the number or people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes who achieved healthier LDL cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure and reduced HbA1c readings.

The Mayo Clinic says that staying up to date on vaccinations such as flu and pneumonia immunizations, as well as abstaining from smoking are two of the top 10 ways that individuals with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes can avoid costly complications of the disease.