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Diabetics with Better Access to Physicians Report Improved Outcomes

Update Date: Oct 27, 2014 01:18 PM EDT

Increased physician accessibility is linked to improved outcomes for patients with type 2 diabetes, a new study out of the University of Southern California (USC) reported. According to the team, when patients have the ability to communicate easily with their doctors via the phone or in person, they can end up becoming more proactive in managing their health conditions and symptoms.

In this study, the researchers examined 540 Medicaid patients with type 2 diabetes residing in Los Angeles, CA. The team compared the patient's health care and life quality, which they self-reported.

Overall, patients who had doctors that adopted the "medical home" model of primary care reported greater life quality. Doctors using this model had more accessible hours and were more likely to see their patients during each visit. The team calculated that for every 25 percent jump in the doctor's medical home performance, the patients reported experiencing some kind of health improvement that was comparable to eliminating an early complication of diabetes.

The researchers found that female patients benefited the most from seeing a doctor who practiced medical home care. The team reasoned that the positive effect was greater in women because they tend to ask more questions and under the medical home model, doctors were more likely to answer those questions.

"I think primary care doctors have the tools they need to deliver more patient-focused care," said the lead investigator of the study, Gregory Stevens, Ph.D., associate professor of family medicine and preventive medicine, reported in the press release. "But our country also needs to support their efforts by training more primary care doctors in this model, rewarding doctors who adopt it, and ultimately reducing the incredible time pressure on doctors.

The study, "Primary Care Medical Home Experience and Health-Related Quality of Life Among Adult Medicaid Patients with Type 2 Diabetes," was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

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