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Research: Quality of Care Investments Reduce Costs for Diabetes Patients

August 10, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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According to a study from researchers at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, medical group practices can reduce costs for patients with diabetes by investing in improved quality of care.

The study, appearing in the August issue of Health Affairs, saw the researchers analyze 234 medical group practices providing care for more than 133,000 diabetic patients. The research developed a "quality of care" score based on select patient care initiatives, and found that for percentage-point increase in their quality of care score, providers saved an average of $51 in health care costs per diabetic patient.

"Our research should be reassuring for physicians who are joining (or forming) value-based Accountable Care Organizations," John E. Kralewski, senior research fellow at the Medica Research Institute and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and the study's lead author, said in a statement. "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."

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

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