Diabetes hospitalizations are falling in Minnesota

Minnesota Health Department researchers say efforts to better coordinate care for diabetes likely fueled a sharp 22 percent drop in hospitalizations for the condition.

They traced the decline between 2006 and 2014 to fewer hospital admissions for diabetes-related health problems other than extremely high or low blood sugar levels.

The decrease appears associated with efforts to improve overall care for people with diabetes, said epidemiologist Renee Kidney.

"The work in the clinic is really structured such that the patient gets the benefit of the unique skill set of all the different people on the care team to help them to be able to manage conditions like diabetes very well," Kidney said.

Health officials say the decline in hospital admissions occurred after 2008, when the state launched several efforts to contain health care costs related to chronic diseases.

The initiatives include a focus on improving team care and disease management in primary care, a quality improvement system that measures diabetes care and outcomes and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership aimed at reducing diabetes risk factors such as obesity and smoking.

Kidney said counties with higher percentages of residents with lower income and education levels tend to have higher rates of diabetes-related hospitalizations.

Other factors were also associated with higher hospitalization rates.

"If you were in a county where fewer people with diabetes were meeting ideal care goals, there tended to be higher hospitalization rates, and also in places where there had been identified health care provider shortages," Kidney said.

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