Currently Viewing:
The American Journal of Managed Care June 2011
Disease Management Programs in Type 2 Diabetes: Quality of Care
Heiner K. Berthold, MD, PhD; Kurt P. Bestehorn, MD; Christina Jannowitz, MD; Wilhelm Krone, MD; and Ioanna Gouni-Berthold, MD
Impact of Persistence With Infliximab on Hospitalizations in Ulcerative Colitis
Chureen T. Carter, PharmD, MS; Henry Leher, PhD; Paula Smith, MS; Daniel B. Smith, MA; and Heidi C. Waters, MBA
Costs of Asthma Among US Working Adults
Rahul Shenolikar, PhD; Xue Song, PhD; Julie A. Anderson, MPH; Bong Chul Chu, PhD; and C. Ron Cantrell, PhD
Identifying Favorable-Value Cardiovascular Health Services
R. Scott Braithwaite, MD, MS; and Sherry M. Mentor, MPH
Currently Reading
Better Continuity of Care Reduces Costs for Diabetic Patients
Chi-Chen Chen, PhD; and Shou-Hsia Cheng, PhD
Hospital Market Concentration, Pricing, and Profitability in Orthopedic Surgery and Interventional Cardiology
James C. Robinson, PhD
The Structure of Risk Adjustment for Private Plans in Medicare
Joseph P. Newhouse, PhD; Jie Huang, PhD; Richard J. Brand, PhD; Vicki Fung, PhD; and John Hsu, MD, MBA, MSCE
Telehealth and Hospitalizations for Medicare Home Healthcare Patients
Hsueh-Fen Chen, PhD; M. Christine Kalish, MBA, CMPE; and Jose A. Pagan, PhD
Emergency Department Visits in Veterans Affairs Medical Facilities
S. Nicole Hastings, MD, MHSc; Valerie A. Smith, MS; Morris Weinberger, PhD; Kenneth E. Schmader, MD; Maren K. Olsen, PhD; and Eugene Z. Oddone, MD, MHSc
Shared Medical Appointments in a Residency Clinic: An Exploratory Study Among Hispanics With Diabetes
Natalia Gutierrez, MD; Nora E. Gimpel, MD; Florence J. Dallo, PhD, MPH; Barbara M. Foster, PhD; and Emeka J. Ohagi, PhD, MPH

Better Continuity of Care Reduces Costs for Diabetic Patients

Chi-Chen Chen, PhD; and Shou-Hsia Cheng, PhD
This longitudinal analysis of diabetes patients found that better continuity of care was associated with reduced healthcare utilization and decreased pharmaceutical and total healthcare expenses.
The time-dependent variables in these models included age, total number of physician visits, the likelihood of hospitalization, diabetes complication severity index score, and enrollment in the NHI diabetes pay-for-performance program. The time-independent variables included sex and low-income status. In addition, this study included time dummy variables to control for characteristics that remain constant among patients but may change over time. Our analyses were performed using SAS version 9.1.3 (SAS Institute, Cary, North Carolina) and Stata 9.1 (StataCorp, College Station, Texas).

RESULTS

Table 1 presents the characteristics of the study sample in 2001. The mean age of subjects was 60.65 years with the majority of patients being female, and 0.86% of them were of low-income status according to the government’s strict definition of the poverty line in Taiwan. With regard to the health status of patients, the average number of physician visits for any condition in the previous year was 28.42, which was higher than the national average of 15 visits, and the hospitalization rate in the previous year was 15.87%. Additionally, 47.23% of the study sample had a diabetes complication severity index score of 0, whereas 25.10% had a score of 2 or higher.

The study variables according to year are presented in Table 2. The COCI scores remained stable (0.64-0.66) from 2001 to 2006. In terms of healthcare utilization during this time period, the rate of diabetes-related hospitalizations increased from 13.59% to 20.64%, and the rate of ED visits increased from 6.67% to 11.95%. Additionally, diabetes-related pharmaceutical expenses increased from New Taiwan (NT) $16,428 to NT $23,728, and total diabetes-related healthcare expenses increased from NT $28,785 to NT $49,776 (NT $33 equaled $1 in 2001).

Table 3 presents results from the GEE models, which examined effects of COCI on the likelihood of diabetes-related hospitalization and ED visit. Patients with high or medium COCI scores were less likely to be hospitalized for diabetes-related conditions than were those with low COCI scores (odds ratio [OR] 0.26, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.25, 0.27, and OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.56, 0.59, respectively). We also found that patients with high or medium COCI scores were less likely to have diabetes-related ED visits compared with patients with low COCI scores (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.33, 0.36, and OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.62, 0.66, respectively).

Results from the GEE models concerning the effect of COCI on diabetes-related pharmaceutical and diabetes-related total healthcare expenses are listed in Table 4. Patients with high or medium COCI scores incurred lower pharmaceutical expenses than did patients with low COCI scores (ß –0.14, P <.001; ß –0.06, P <.001). Patients with high or medium COCI scores tended to incur lower diabetes-related total healthcare expenses than did patients with low COCI scores (ß –0.53, P <.001; ß –0.29, P <.001).

The Figure presents the mean predicted expenses, including diabetes-related pharmaceutical expenses and diabetesrelated total healthcare expenses, which were significantly different among the low, medium, and high COCI groups. With regard to pharmaceutical expenses, patients with low COCI scores spent NT $4155 more than did patients with high COCI scores. In terms of total healthcare expenses, we calculated a larger savings (NT $24,314) for patients with high COCI scores versus patients with low COCI scores.

Sensitivity Analyses

We conducted 2 sensitivity analyses to improve the robustness of this study. First, we used the other 2 commonly used indicators of continuity of care to examine the association. The usual provider continuity index was defined as the number of outpatient visits to the most frequently seen physician divided by the total number of outpatient visits.28 The usual provider continuity index would therefore always be larger than zero, with a higher value corresponding to a higher continuity of care. In addition, the sequential continuity index was defined as the portion of consecutive visit pairs at which the same provider is seen.34 This score also ranges from 0 to 1, with a higher value representing a better continuity-of-care status. We found that the results were similar to those obtained using COCI (eAppendix A and eAppendix B, available at www.ajmc.com). Second, we also examined whether the effect of the COCI on healthcare utilization and healthcare expense was independent of the number of physician visits. We stratified the number of physician visits into 3 tertiles (low-visit, medium-visit, and high-visit groups) and found almost similar results within each group (eAppendix C and eAppendix D, available at www.ajmc.com).

DISCUSSION

We examined the effects of continuity of care on healthcare utilization and healthcare expenses for patients with DM by calculating COCI scores for diabetes-related visits. The COCI scores ranged from 0.64 to 0.66, which were higher than the COCI scores for all physician visits among the general public reported in a previous study.6 Findings from our analysis showed that better continuity of care was significantly associated with a lower likelihood of diabetes-related hospitalizations and ED visits. This study also found that better continuity of care for DM was significantly associated with lower diabetes-related pharmaceutical expenses and diabetesrelated total healthcare expenses.

The COCI scores using only diabetes-related visits in these years (0.64-0.66) are higher than the scores calculated using all visits (0.35-0.36). Under Taiwan’s NHI, patients can visit a specialist without referral; a high COCI score implies that many diabetic patients tend to see the same doctors for diabetes care. The COCI scores tend to be much lower for visits for all conditions, indicating poorer continuity of care in general. However, COCI scores are difficult to interpret in absolute numbers and should not be compared with other findings from different healthcare systems.

In terms of the effects of continuity of care on healthcare utilization, our findings were similar to those of previous studies focusing on patients with diabetes. Knight et al found that better continuity of care by family physicians was associated with decreased hospitalization among the elderly with diabetes in Canada.13 A study by Lin et al found that a higher level of continuity of care was associated with a lower risk of hospitalization for diabetic complications among patients with diabetes in Taiwan.14 By using a longitudinal study analysis to account for repeated measures from the same patients, this study enhanced the robustness of previous findings. Furthermore, we also found that better continuity of care may lead to a lower likelihood of diabetes-related ED visits. The findings imply that increased continuity of care for DM may result in better healthcare outcomes.

Previous studies have shown that better continuity of care is associated with lower healthcare expenses in general. Weiss et al found that longer relationships between physicians and patients were associated with a lower cost of inpatient and outpatient care for the elderly in the United States.35 Raddish et al reported a negative relationship between continuity of care and prescription costs for 5 target diseases in the United States.36 Similarly, De Maeseneer et al reported significant effects of continuity of care on total healthcare costs in family practices in Belgium.37 Our study contributes to this current literature by focusing on expenses related to diabetes care.

We found that diabetic patients with a high level of continuity of care incurred lower annual expenses for medications and healthcare overall, spending NT $4155 less (approximately $126) for medications and NT $24,314 less (approximately $737) for healthcare overall than did those patients with a low level of continuity of care in Taiwan. The reduced pharmaceutical and healthcare expenses could be explained by the ongoing relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient, which may improve guideline adherence,9 reduce unnecessary laboratory testing and test repetition,38,39 and avoid polypharmacy.40 Additionally, reduced healthcare expenses may be associated with fewer hospital admissions or ED visits that result from poor control of diabetes. However, determining the mechanism of this effect is beyond the scope of this study and is worthy of further exploration.

Limitations to this study need to be addressed. First, we did not include certain patient characteristics that may simultaneously affect both the continuity of care and healthcare outcomes; these include socioeconomic variables and healthseeking behaviors. However, we used a longitudinal analysis technique that was able to account for the time-invariant, unobserved patient characteristics, thus increasing the robustness of the findings. Second, this study utilized NHI claims data, which do not contain information about self-paid physician visits. We assumed that the proportion of such visits would be minimal with respect to total healthcare visits in Taiwan. Finally, there are some unique aspects of Taiwan’s healthcare system and thus the results may not be generalizable to other populations.

In conclusion, in a healthcare system with universal coverage and a high level of access to care, this study indicates that better continuity of care is associated with less healthcare utilization and lower healthcare expenses for diabetic patients. Improving the continuity of care might be beneficial for patients with DM.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank National Health Research Institutes for providing the data sets for our study.

 

Author Affiliations: From Institute of Health Policy & Management (CCC, SHC), College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taiwan.

 

Funding Source: The study was supported by a grant from the National Science Council (NSC98-2410-H-002-054) in Taiwan.

 

Author Disclosures: The authors (CCC, SHC) report no relationship or financial interest with any entity that would pose a conflict of interest with the subject matter of this article.

 

Authorship Information: Concept and design (CCC, SHC); acquisition of data (SHC); analysis and interpretation of data (CCC, SHC); drafting of the manuscript (CCC, SHC); critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content (CCC, SHC); statistical analysis (CCC, SHC); provision of study materials or patients (CCC, SHC); obtaining funding (SHC); administrative, technical, or logistic support (CCC); and supervision (SHC).

 

Address correspondence to: Shou-Hsia Cheng, PhD, Institute of Health Policy & Management, National Taiwan University, 17 Xu-Zhou Road, Taipei, Taiwan 100. E-mail: shcheng@ntu.edu.tw.

1. Stratton IM, Adler AI, Neil HA, et al. Association of glycaemia with macrovascular and microvascular complications of type 2 diabetes (UKPDS 35): prospective observational study. BMJ. 2000;321(7258): 405-412.

 

2. American Diabetes Association. Economic costs of diabetes in the U.S. in 2007 [published correction appears in Diabetes Care. 2008;31 (6):1271]. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(3):596-615.

 

3. Bureau of National Health Insurance. The 1998 report of National Health Insurance Annual Statistical Report [in Chinese]. 1999.

 

4. Bureau of National Health Insurance. The 2008 report of National Health Insurance Annual Statistical Report [in Chinese]. 2009.

 

5. Saultz JW, Lochner J. Interpersonal continuity of care and care outcomes: a critical review. Ann Fam Med. 2005;3(2):159-166.

 

6. Cheng SH, Hou YF, Chen CC. Does continuity of care matter in a healthcare system that lacks referral arrangements? Health Policy Plan. 2011;26(2):157-162.

 

7. Cheng SH, Chen CC, Hou YF. A longitudinal examination of continuity of care and avoidable hospitalization: evidence from a universal coverage health system. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(18):1671-1677.

 

8. Miller TE. Managed care regulation: in the laboratory of the states. JAMA. 1997;278(13):1102-1109.

 

9. Leopold N, Cooper J, Clancy C. Sustained partnership in primary care. J Fam Pract. 1996;42(2):129-137. 10. Koopman RJ, Mainous AG 3rd, Baker R, Gill JM, Gilbert GE. Continuity of care and recognition of diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Arch Intern Med. 2003;163(11):1357-1361.

 

11. Hänninen J, Takala J, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S. Good continuity of care may improve quality of life in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2001;51(1):21-27.

 

12. Gulliford MC, Naithani S, Morgan M. Continuity of care and intermediate outcomes of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Fam Pract. 2007;24(3): 245-251.

 

13. Knight JC, Dowden JJ, Worrall GJ, Gadag VG, Murphy MM. Does higher continuity of family physician care reduce hospitalizations in elderly people with diabetes? Popul Health Manag. 2009;12(2):81-86.

 

14. Lin W, Huang IC, Wang SL, Yang MC, Yaung CL. Continuity of diabetes care is associated with avoidable hospitalizations: evidence from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance scheme. Int J Qual Health Care. 2010;22(1):3-8.

 

15. Flocke SA, Stange KC, Zyzanski SJ. The impact of insurance type and forced discontinuity on the delivery of primary care. J Fam Pract. 1997;45(2):129-135.

 

16. Chen TJ, Chou LF, Hwang SJ. Patterns of ambulatory care utilization in Taiwan. BMC Health Serv Res. 2006;6:54.

 

17. Wang MJ, Lin SP. Study on doctor shopping behavior: insight from patients with upper respiratory tract infection in Taiwan. Health Policy. 2010;94(1):61-67. 18. Gill JM, Mainous AG 3rd. The role of provider continuity in preventing hospitalizations. Arch Fam Med. 1998;7(4):352-357.

 

19. Mainous AG 3rd, Gill JM. The importance of continuity of care in the likelihood of future hospitalization: is site of care equivalent to a primary clinician? Am J Public Health. 1998;88(10):1539-1541.

 

20. Gill JM, Mainous AG, Nsereko M. The effect of continuity of care on emergency department use. Arch Fam Med. 2000;9(4):333-338.

 

21. Brousseau DC, Meurer JR, Isenberg ML, Kuhn EM, Gorelick MH. Association between infant continuity of care and pediatric emergency department utilization. Pediatrics. 2004;113(4):738-741.

 

22. Menec VH, Sirski M, Attawar D. Does continuity of care matter in a universally insured population? Health Serv Res. 2005;40(2):389-400.

 

23. Ionescu-Ittu R, McCusker J, Ciampi A, et al. Continuity of primary care and emergency department utilization among elderly people. CMAJ. 2007;177(11):1362-1368.

 

24. Twisk JWR. Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis for Epidemiology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

 

25. Fitzmaurice GM, Laird NM, Ware JH. Applied Longitudinal Analysis. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2004.

 

26. Jee SH, Cabana MD. Indices for continuity of care: a systematic review of the literature. Med Care Res Rev. 2006;63(2):158-188.

 

27. Bice TW, Boxerman SB. A quantitative measure of continuity of care. Med Care. 1977;15(4):347-349.

 

28. Shortell SM. Continuity of medical care: conceptualization and measurement. Med Care. 1976;14(5):377-391.

 

29. Smedby O, Eklund G, Eriksson EA, Smedby B. Measures of continuity of care. a register-based correlation study. Med Care. 1986;24(6): 511-518.

 

30. Young BA, Lin E, Von Korff M, et al. Diabetes complications severity index and risk of mortality, hospitalization, and healthcare utilization. Am J Manag Care. 2008;14(1):15-23.

 

31. Lee TT, Cheng SH, Chen CC, Lai MS. A pay-for-performance program for diabetes care in Taiwan: a preliminary assessment. Am J Manag Care. 2010;16(1):65-69.

 

32. Austin PC, Ghali WA, Tu JV. A comparison of several regression models for analysing cost of CABG surgery. Stat Med. 2003;22(17): 2799-2815.

 

33. Blough DK, Ramsey SD. Using generalized linear models to assess medical care costs. Health Serv Outcomes Res Methodol. 2000;1(2): 185-202.

 

34. Steinwachs DM. Measuring provider continuity in ambulatory care: an assessment of alternative approaches. Med Care. 1979;17(6):551- 565.

 

35. Weiss LJ, Blustein J. Faithful patients: the effect of long-term physician-patient relationships on the costs and use of health care by older Americans. Am J Public Health. 1996;86(12):1742-1747.

 

36. Raddish M, Horn SD, Sharkey PD. Continuity of care: is it cost effective? Am J Manag Care. 1999;5(6):727-734.

 

37. De Maeseneer JM, De Prins L, Gosset C, Heyerick J. Provider continuity in family medicine: does it make a difference for total health care costs? Ann Fam Med. 2003;1(3):144-148.

 

38. Valenstein P, Leiken A, Lehmann C. Test-ordering by multiple physicians increases unnecessary laboratory examinations. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1988;112(3):238-241.

 

39. van Walraven C, Cernat G, Austin PC. Effect of provider continuity on test repetition. Clin Chem. 2006;52(12):2219-2228.

 

40. Meyer TJ, Van Kooten D, Marsh S, Prochazka AV. Reduction of polypharmacy by feedback to clinicians. J Gen Intern Med. 1991;6(2):
133-136.

PDF
 
Copyright AJMC 2006-2019 Clinical Care Targeted Communications Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
x
Welcome the the new and improved AJMC.com, the premier managed market network. Tell us about yourself so that we can serve you better.
Sign Up