An estimated 30.3 million Americans have diabetes mellitus. The US Department of Health and Human Services created national objectives via its Healthy People 2020 initiative to improve the quality of life for people who either have or are at risk for diabetes mellitus, and hence, lower the personal and national economic burden of this debilitating chronic disease. Diabetes self-management education interventions are a primary focus of this initiative.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of the Better Choices Better Health Diabetes (BCBH-D) self-management program on comorbid illness related to diabetes mellitus, health care utilization, and cost.
A propensity score matched two-group, pre-post design was used for this study. Retrospective administrative medical and pharmacy claims data from the HealthCore Integrated Research Environment were used for outcome variables. The intervention cohort included diabetes mellitus patients who were recruited to a diabetes self-management program. Control cohort subjects were identified from the HealthCore Integrated Research Environment by at least two diabetes-associated claims (International Classification of Diseases-Ninth Revision, ICD-9 250.xx) within 2 years before the program launch date (October 1, 2011-September 30, 2013) but did not participate in BCBH-D. Controls were matched to cases in a 3:1 propensity score match. Outcome measures included pre- and postintervention all-cause and diabetes-related utilization and costs. Cost outcomes are reported as least squares means. Repeated measures analyses (generalized estimating equation approach) were conducted for utilization, comorbid conditions, and costs.
The program participants who were identified in HealthCore Integrated Research Environment claims (N=558) were matched to a control cohort of 1669 patients. Following the intervention, the self-management cohort experienced significant reductions for diabetes mellitus–associated comorbid conditions, with the postintervention disease burden being significantly lower (mean 1.6 [SD 1.6]) compared with the control cohort (mean 2.1 [SD 1.7]; P=.001). Postintervention all-cause utilization was decreased in the intervention cohort compared with controls with −40/1000 emergency department visits vs +70/1000; P=.004 and −5780 outpatient visits per 1000 vs −290/1000; P=.001. Unadjusted total all-cause medical cost was decreased by US $2207 in the intervention cohort compared with a US $338 decrease in the controls; P=.001. After adjustment for other variables through structural equation analysis, the direct effect of the BCBH-D was –US $815 (P=.049).
Patients in the BCBH-D program experienced reduced all-cause health care utilization and costs. Direct cost savings were US $815. Although encouraging, given the complexity of the patient population, further study is needed to cross-validate the results.