Diabetes passports improve compliance

A roll-out of diabetes passports across the UK could boost quality framework scores by improving patient compliance, according to diabetes experts.

Latest research has shown the use of passports could increase the number of patients visiting their GP for HbA1c testing and lowering cholesterol levels.

The quality framework awards GPs three points for recording HbA1c levels and nine points for recording and managing total cholesterol to 5mmol/l or less.

For the study, Dutch researchers examined the impact of introducing diabetes passports in a sample of 993 patients with type-2 diabetes.

The passports were used to track results, record treatment targets and provide education. They were also used to record medication use, results of lab tests and physical examinations.

The number of patients visiting their GP to have their HbA1c checked increased by 10 per cent following the introduction of the passports, while the number of patients with a cholesterol level of 5mmol/l or less also increased by 10 per cent.

The passports also improved patient knowledge of diabetes, increased the ability of patients to discuss diabetes with their GP and improved personal control of diabetes management.

Lead researcher Dr Rob Dijkstra, from the medical centre at the University of Nijmegen, said that the study showed that it was not difficult to introduce the passports into primary care.

Dr Brain Karet, diabetes lead for North Bradford PCT, has been using passports at his practice and believes that they could be adopted throughout the UK to help patients take a more active role in diabetes management and improve treatment.

'We use a 16-page booklet that gives patients a general overview of diabetes and includes a glossary of key terms.

'On the last page is a set of personal targets that the patients can use to form the basis of discussions with their GP.'

It turns the whole conversation around and helps make behavioural changes easier, Dr Karet said.

County Down GP Dr Colin Kenny, former chairman of the Primary Care Diabetes Society who has also been using the passports at his practice, said the evidence showed the patients like to be engaged and provided with information such as a passport.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

Int Journal of Quality in Health Care Online 2007

Passport benefits
Increase in HbA1c checks after passport introduction - 10%
Source: University of Nijmegen.

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