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Business Coalitions Join AHRQ To Improve the Quality of Diabetes Care

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Press Release Date: May 4, 2006

HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today announced a new partnership with three of nation's leading business coalitions designed to help improve the quality of diabetes care within and across communities. The new partnership, Improving Diabetes Care in Communities Collaborative, brings together the Greater Detroit Area Health Council, the MidAtlantic Business Group on Health, and the Memphis Business Group on Health.

The goal of this partnership is to support local communities in their efforts to reduce the rate of obesity and other risk factors that can lead to diabetes and its complications. The partners also will work together to ensure that people with diabetes receive appropriate health care services. Nationally, only one-half of patients with diabetes routinely receive recommended health care services, including eye exams, blood sugar (hemoglobin A1c) tests, and foot exams, and this rate has not shown improvement over the last few years, according to data from AHRQ's National Healthcare Quality Report released in January.

"The coalitions and the Agency are committed to improving care for people with diabetes," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "All change is local, and this is a wonderful example of how AHRQ can help communities work together to improve and advance health care quality and the health of their citizens."

Each of the coalitions has convened stakeholders, including businesses, providers, health plans, insurers, consumers, and academics, to set priorities in their efforts to improve diabetes care and develop solutions that fit within the community's needs and capabilities. The discussions are developing some cross-cutting strategies for addressing diabetes quality improvement, including a return on investment calculator for estimating financial returns from disease management, application of the chronic care model, and an employer guide on managing diabetes care with health plans. The strategies and tools developed under the partnership and any lessons learned will be disseminated broadly for communities around the nation to use in improving the quality of diabetes care.

"At the MidAtlantic Business Group on Health, we recognize that diabetes is a costly, tragic disease, and that this threat is increasing dramatically," said John Miller, chief executive officer, MidAtlantic Business Group on Health. "With AHRQ's assistance and support, we're working toward two simple goals: helping businesses understand the economic case for taking on this challenge and working with the health care community to prevent, identify, and control diabetes, and eliminate disparities in care and control."

Cristie Travis, chief executive officer, Memphis Business Group on Health, said, "in a very short time period, we have worked with AHRQ to establish a baseline, adopt a framework for change, and charter two projects that will engage both employers and the provider community in improving diabetes treatment. All of this work is evidence based, which provides our community with confidence as we make needed changes."

Vernice Davis Anthony, president and chief executive officer, Greater Detroit Area Health Council, noted, "our coalition members understand the impact of diabetes and the trends related to obesity and physical inactivity on the health and productivity of southeast Michigan residents. We are excited that our purchasers, payers and providers are using local and national data and tools from AHRQ to design interventions that will save lives and save dollars for our community. The Greater Detroit Area Health Council's collaborative model offers significant leverage to drive change in our region."

According to Andrew Webber, president and chief executive officer of the National Business Coalition on Health, "wellness efforts from health care coalitions can have a significant impact on the health and productivity of the U.S. workforce. Employees' lives are improved while employers benefit from healthier workers and realize decreased overall medical costs and absenteeism."

AHRQ, in partnership with the Council of State Governments, has developed Diabetes Care Quality Improvement: A Resource Guide for State Action and its companion workbook, both of which are designed to help states assess the quality of diabetes care and develop quality improvement strategies. They can be found online at Printed copies may be ordered by calling 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1855 or (301) 427-1245.


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