How a Dayton physician group improved diabetes care

In the same way that rigorous checklists helped the airline industry improved safety, methodical processes are helping one of the largest Dayton physician groups improve diabetes care.

“They’ve got a process for everything. And taking it from that industry, we start to think ‘maybe we need to have our own processes for identifying and asking all the right questions,’” said Dr. Mark Couch, president of PriMed Physicians, which was just nationally recognized as a top performer when it comes to diabetes care.


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The outcome of diabetic care can have a big impact in Montgomery County, where 13 percent of the population has been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to Ohio’s average of 9.5 percent, according to 2015 data from the Centers for Disease Control’s Diabetes Atlas.

Couch said diabetes can be a complex disease to improve, but if doctors find the right processes and reliably ask the right questions, they can improve results the same way that other industries use checklists to methodically reduce errors.

Couch compared their quality approach to the Six Sigma techniques used for process improvement commonly used by manufacturers and other businesses, which use a methodical sequence of steps to consistently meet targets and dramatically reduce errors.

The issues associated with diabetes care range from helping a patient reliably taking their pills to figuring out what’s the most cost effective treatment and what kind of treatment the patients insurance covers.

“So you’re always looking to see if you can identify those obstacles and then work with people to help them be successful,” Couch said.

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PriMed’s work to improve diabetes is part of a national initiative of about 150 medical groups that are sharing best practices for treating the 1 million people with Type 2 diabetes under their care. The initiative to improve outcomes by 2019 is the Together 2 Goal campaign through the American Medical Group Association, which presented PriMed with the award for its work.

“There are quality approaches you can do so you greatly reduce errors and get reliable quality outcomes more and more for the people that you care for,” he said. “And that’s what this collaborative does. We share each others’ stories. Hear each others’ ideas. Tell each other what works, and what doesn’t work, and learn from each other to create better care.”

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