Improving Diabetes Care and Patient Outcomes in Skilled-Care Communities: Successes and Lessons From a Quality Improvement Initiative

Patrick J. Boyle, Kevin W. O'Neil, Carolyn A. Berry, Stephanie A. Stowell, Sara C. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To improve the quality of care for residents of long term care (LTC) facilities who have diabetes by (1) improving glycemic control, (2) increasing comprehensive diabetes management, (3) reducing fragmented care, and (4) empowering patient-care teams to educate patients and families regarding this disease. Design: Based on the Plan-Do-Study-Act principles of effective change, a baseline evaluation of contemporary care for residents with diabetes was conducted through focus-group interviews, a confidence survey, and chart review. Three live educational workshops provided guideline-recommended information addressing educational desires and needs of clinical staff, a tool for improving performance in key areas of need, and an opportunity for care teams to engage in dialogue about advances in diabetes with a national diabetes expert. Reassessment was performed via chart review twice at 3 and 5 months post education. Key lessons and tools for improvements were disseminated to other LTC communities through a CME-certified publication activity and follow-up teleconferences. Setting: Two skilled-nursing LTC communities. Participants: Physicians, administrators, nurses, certified nursing assistants, and nutrition staff. Intervention: Three live continuing education/continuing medical education-certified workshops attended by 83 health care professionals. Measurements: Twenty-five comprehensive clinical indicators of diabetes care and overall health were assessed for all residents with a diabetes diagnosis at baseline (n = 35), 3 months (n = 40), and 5 months (n = 27) post education. Results: The primary objective of improving glycemic control we reached through a statistically significant 18% reduction in the percentage of residents experiencing hypoglycemia from baseline to 3 months post education (31% at baseline, 13% at 3 months, P = .046). Low levels of hypoglycemia (11%) were maintained at 5 months post education. Positive changes in an additional 3 measures of patient health include improved daily blood glucose levels, reduced ranges of HbA1c, and improved low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. Improvements in 4 measures of clinician performance were also observed, namely comprehensive foot evaluations, referrals to specialists for foot care and eye exams, and improved use of physical activity. Conclusion: Diabetes care, particularly in elder adults, is complex and requires a multidisciplinary approach. Focused quality improvement activities within LTC communities offer care providers the information and tools required to make effective changes that have the ability to promote improved patient care. These efforts must be multidisciplinary and effectively engage all stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-344
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Continuing medical education
  • Diabetes care
  • Quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Improving Diabetes Care and Patient Outcomes in Skilled-Care Communities: Successes and Lessons From a Quality Improvement Initiative'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this