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Impact of a multi-disciplinary team-based care model for patients living with diabetes on health outcomes: a mixed-methods study.

BACKGROUND: Individuals facing socioeconomic hardship experience higher than average rates of chronic disease, such as diabetes, with less access to evidence-based treatment. One solution to address these inequities is a team-based care (TBC) model, defined as one in which at least two providers work collaboratively with a patient and their caregiver(s) to make healthcare decisions. This paper seeks to describe the implementation of a TBC model within a safety-net healthcare setting and determine the extent to which it can be an effective, patient-centered approach to treating individuals with diabetes.

METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with staff (n = 15) and patients (n = 18). Clinical data were extracted from the electronic medical record of patients (n = 1,599) seen at a safety-net health system in Chicago, Illinois, United States. The mixed methods study was guided by implementation science and participatory research principles. Staff interviews were 60 min and covered patient care activities, work flow, perceived patient experience, and facilitators/barriers to care coordination. Patient interviews were 60 min and covered satisfaction, attitudes about diabetes management, quality of life, and technology. Patient interviews were co-analyzed by research staff and members of a patient advisory committee. Clinical data were collected at an index visit, two years prior and at one-year follow up (n = 1,599).

RESULTS: Four themes emerged from the interviews: (1) patients perceived the TBC model to be patient centered and of high quality; (2) technology can be an innovative tool, but barriers exist; (3) diabetes management is a complex process; and (4) staff communication enhances care coordination, but misinterpreting roles reduces care coordination. From pre-enrollment to the follow-up period, we found a statistically significant increase in missed visits, decrease in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), decrease in body mass index, and decrease in the percent of patients with high blood pressure. We found that each medical visit during the follow-up period was associated with an HbA1c decrease of 0.26 points.

CONCLUSIONS: A TBC model is a patient-centered approach to providing care to patients with complex health needs, such as diabetes, patients were satisfied with the care they were receiving, and the model was associated with an improvement in clinical outcomes.

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