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The Cost-Effectiveness of Improving Diabetes Care in U.S. Federally Qualified Community Health Centers

Objective. To estimate the incremental cost-effectiveness of improving diabetes care with the Health Disparities Collaborative (HDC), a national collaborative quality improvement (QI) program conducted in community health centers (HCs).

Data Sources/Study Setting. Data regarding the impact of the Diabetes HDC program came from a serial cross-sectional follow-up study (1998, 2000, 2002) of the program in 17 Midwestern HCs. Data inputs for the simulation model of diabetes came from the latest clinical trials and epidemiological studies.

Study Design. We conducted a societal cost-effectiveness analysis, incorporating data from QI program evaluation into a Monte Carlo simulation model of diabetes.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods. Data on diabetes care processes and risk factor levels were extracted from medical charts of randomly selected patients.

Principal Findings. From 1998 to 2002, multiple processes of care (e.g., glycosylated hemoglobin testing [HbA1C] [71?92 percent] and ACE inhibitor prescribing [33?55 percent]) and risk factor levels (e.g., 1998 mean HbA1C 8.53 percent, mean difference 0.45 percent [95 percent confidence intervals -0.72, -0.17]) improved significantly. With these improvements, the HDC was estimated to reduce the lifetime incidence of blindness (17?15 percent), end-stage renal disease (18?15 percent), and coronary artery disease (28?24 percent). The average improvement in quality-adjusted life year (QALY) was 0.35 and the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was $33,386/QALY.

Conclusions. During the first 4 years of the HDC, multiple improvements in diabetes care were observed. If these improvements are maintained or enhanced over the lifetime of patients, the HDC program will be cost-effective for society based on traditionally accepted thresholds.

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