Cliff Peale reports:
Ginger Zappin has her diabetes under control.
She checks her feet for swelling regularly. She gets her blood work done every three months. Every year, she gets an eye test, with the results sent straight to her doctor, Edward Drohan.
“One time they forgot and I got a call from Drohan’s office,” said Zappin, 59. “They said, ‘You’ve got to get your eyes tested.’ ”
The extra attention from West Chester Medical Group, owned by the TriHealth system, has paid off for plenty of patients like Zappin.
Last year the practice posted the biggest improvement in Greater Cincinnati in diabetes scores, as posted on the www.YourHealthMatters.org Internet site.
As reported by the site, 48 percent of the practice’s diabetes patients had control of the chronic condition in 2011, as measured by five regular tests, compared with 28 percent the year before.
Diabetes is only one of many chronic conditions choking the nation’s $2.6 trillion health care system. Cutting diabetes rates could have a dramatic impact on both the health of Americans and the growth of health care costs, starting with the kind of incremental progress exhibited inside doctors’ offices such as the ones in West Chester.
As many as 10 percent of adult Americans have diabetes. Managing and treating the chronic condition costs $174 billion a year, including $58 billion in indirect costs such as lost productivity and disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The problem is getting worse. In Ohio, 10 percent of adults had been diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, more than double the rate in 1994, the agency said.
Kentucky saw an even steeper increase, up to 10.8 percent in 2010 from 3.9 percent in 1994.
The www.YourHealthMatters.org scores, which are in only their second year, allow patients to see data from medical practices across the region. Theoretically, they can choose doctors that show success.
“Empowered patients can really take control of this condition,” said Barb Tobias, medical director of the Health Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati, which operates the site.
“Transparency works. When doctors know what the measures are, we can be much more concerted in making changes. And systems that provide that IT support, they can make those needed changes.”
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