More than 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, the total cost of diabetes care rose to $327 billion in 2017—a 26 percent increase over 2012. An estimated 60 percent of this cost comes from hospitalizations and medications.
A new study conducted across several community hospitals in the Johns Hopkins Health System and published in the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives shows that inpatient diabetes management programs can reduce both 30-day hospital readmissions and length of stay, ultimately helping to increase cost-savings related to diabetes care.
“This is the most significant study at the community hospital level to show a direct correlation between patients who are co-managed by an inpatient diabetes management team and a shorter length of stay and reduced readmissions,” says study senior author Mihail Zilbermint, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and chief and director of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Suburban Hospital. “Hospitalized patients with diabetes are at risk of complications. Programs dedicated to caring for this population improve outcomes, with a hope to provide potential healthcare savings.”
The study tracked 4,654 patients with diabetes who were admitted at Suburban Hospital over a sixteen-month period. 18.3 percent of these patients were co-managed by an inpatient diabetes management service team comprised of an endocrinologist, a nurse practitioner and a diabetes educator. The length of stay for co-managed patients decreased by 27 percent, with a potential saving of nearly one million dollars.
“This study represents a truly collaborative and innovative approach to managing patients with diabetes,” said Eric Dobkin, M.D., vice president of medical affairs at Suburban Hospital. “This evidence-based study shows that specialized diabetes care helps improve outcomes, shorten length of stay and avoid readmissions. This integrated approach of care is beneficial to patients, their family members and caregivers, and everyone involved at all levels of treatment.”
The inpatient diabetes management program at Suburban Hospital was modeled after a program established by Sherita Hill Golden, M.D., M.P.H, director of inpatient diabetes management service and professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine. The study shows how this program can be successfully implemented at the community hospital level.