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A Project ECHO and Community Health Worker Intervention for Patients with Diabetes

Published:December 29, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2021.12.002

      Abstract

      Background

      Both community health workers and the Project ECHO model of specialist telementoring are innovative approaches to support primary care providers in the care of complex patients with diabetes. We studied the effect of an intervention that combined these 2 approaches on glycemic control.

      Methods

      Patients with diabetes were recruited from 10 federally qualified health centers in New Mexico. We used electronic health record (EHR) data to compare HbA1c levels prior to intervention enrollment with HbA1c levels after 3 months (early follow-up) and 12 months (late follow-up) following enrollment. We propensity matched intervention patients to comparison patients from other sites within the same electronic health records databases to estimate the average treatment effect.

      Results

      Among 557 intervention patients with HbA1c data, mean HbA1c decreased from 10.5% to 9.3% in the pre- versus postintervention periods (P < .001). As compared to the comparison group, the intervention was associated with a change in HbA1c of −0.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] −0.4%-0.5%) and −0.3 (95% CI −0.5–0.0) in the early and late follow-up cohorts, respectively. The intervention was associated with a significant increase in percentage of patients with HbA1c <8% in the late follow-up cohort (8.1%, 95% CI 2.2%−13.9%) but not the early follow-up cohort (3.6%, 95% CI −1.5% to 8.7%)

      Discussion

      The intervention was associated with a substantial decrease in HbA1c in intervention patients, although this improvement was not different from matched comparison patients in early follow-up. Although combining community health workers with Project ECHO may hold promise for improving glycemic control, particularly in the longer term, further evaluations are needed.

      Keywords

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