Researchers at the University of Kansas (KU) found that coordinated care programs for diabetes led to improved clinical outcomes, including reductions in diastolic blood pressure, BMI, body mass index and HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin or blood sugar levels. The researchers underscored the importance of community and non-medical staff involvement to the success of such programs. Says Ithar Hassaballa, KU graduate research assistant, in his evaluation of a diabetes care coordination program for low-income African-American women living in Boston public housing:
In a world where resources are limited, it’s important to engage community members as champions for diabetes education and support. That way, they are active participants in the provision of care and can play an important role in assuring that interventions fit the context of the local people.
Echoing Hassaballa’s thoughts is Charles Seper Jr., another graduate research assistant at KU, in his evaluation of a diabetes care coordination program implemented in four patient-centered medical homes in Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Tennessee:
This research provides support for improving patient outcomes through a patient-centered care approach that features nonclinical staff like community health workers. These types of innovations are necessary to build the health care capacity to keep pace with the growing number of medically underserved Americans experiencing diabetes and other chronic diseases.