National Performance Measures for Diabetes Mellitus Care: Implications for Health Care Providers
When considering the trends in disease management, the focus of healthcare in the US has shifted from communicable diseases, which can most often be managed successfully, to chronic diseases, which are currently not managed very well. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, become a lifelong health problem for the individual, the family, and in the workplace. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent diabetes and no cure for diabetes once acquired. In order to improve the quality of care for diabetes, national performance measures have been developed to provide a unified set of diabetes-specific performance and outcome measures. The Diabetes Quality Improvement Project (DQIP) founded in 1997 through a partnership between the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and the American Diabetes Association, established a single, standardized set of performance measures for diabetes care quality improvement and accountability in the US, which were published in 1998. The DQIP measures are noteworthy as a model for many other chronic diseases. Indeed, the DQIP represents the first widely adopted comprehensive performance measurement standards, not just for diabetes but for any single chronic disease. This is of further significance since it was developed by a coalition of public and private entities in the US. In order to prevent long-term complications from diabetes, there needs to be a physician-coordinated treatment plan involving a team approach to the problem. When such a physician-coordinated treatment plan is developed in conformance with the comprehensive performance measures, the prospects for a greater impact on diabetes might be enhanced. Overall, national performance measures for diabetes care have been widely adopted into health plan quality initiatives and have resulted in increased efforts to promote preventative screening and testing. Better compliance has lead to more stringent glucose control and helped to educate the public on the utility of the glycosylated hemoglobin level test for finding those at risk for microvascular and neuropathic complications. While more Americans with diabetes are receiving the recommended standards of care as a result of the implementation of national performance measures, diabetes management remains suboptimal but achievable. The authors concluded from this review that national performance measures have provided health plans and providers with objective tools to measure quality; however, these measures now need to move to prevention standards and initiatives. Policy development for diabetes care must continue to move from managing chronic illness to preventative screening of pre-diabetes through to identification and modification of lifestyle risk factors.
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