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Striving for Practice Excellence in Diabetes Care and Management


Diabetes continues to be a serious health problem in Western New York, with nearly 30,000 Independent Health members alone with the disease.   Although diabetes is a serious condition, people can effectively manage the condition and prevent serious complications by closely following the advice of their primary care physician.  This includes taking prescribed medication, testing their blood sugar regularly, eating properly and incorporating exercise into their lifestyle.   

Of course, making lifestyle changes isn't always easy, which is why Independent Health offers health coaches to support our members with diabetes.  But the care of patients is a collaborative effort among the patient, the doctor, and even with the health plan.   To assist physicians with the management of their diabetic patients, Independent Health worked collaboratively with community physicians to develop the Diabetes Practice Excellence SM   program.


The goal of the program is to improve the quality of care for diabetics and to decrease the complications that can come from poor management of this chronic condition.  Properly managed diabetic care will improve quality of life for patients and decrease health care utilization and costs.


The Diabetes Practice Excellence SM program engages physicians in the review of  their management of diabetic patients compared with evidence-based guidelines. This review allows physicians and office teams to identify opportunities for improved patient management.  Independent Health provides physicians and office teams with the resources and support they need to develop strategies to provide preventive medicine and proactive care.


Independent Health also conducts direct outreach with diabetic members through health coach calls and mailings to ensure that members are aware of available options and resources for managing their condition.


The program achieved significant improvement in comprehensive diabetes care at the physician practice site level.  Success is attributed to engagement of physician, actionable reports, office-based education, written action plans and alignment with our internal disease management.  The Practice ExcellenceSM program showed a 12% improvement over twelve reporting cycles on adherence to guideline scores among physicians.   In addition, the rate for inpatient diabetic admissions declined from 2009 to 2010.   Independent Health is beginning to see a reduction in costly complications associated with diabetes. A second similar program, Medicare Complexity, focuses on diabetes management specifically for Medicare beneficiaries.  Diabetes outcomes continue to improve under both of these initiatives.


The success of Diabetes Practice Excellence has led Independent Health to develop Practice Excellence programs for other chronic diseases, including patients at risk for cardiovascular disease, heart failure, children's asthma, childhood obesity, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


By collaborating with our physicians on best practices, Independent Health continues toward improving health care quality and affordability here in Western New York.


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