To determine whether an intervention at both the provider and patient level can increase the utilization of diabetic retinal examination among diabetic patients and to compare the results from a comparable study conducted on the East Coast.
For the regional intervention study, all diabetic patients 18 years or older who enrolled in a large network-based health maintenance organization (HMO) in California were identified (n = 19,397). The identified diabetic patients received educational materials and a notification of their prior diabetic retinal examination status. Also, their primary care physicians received the current American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines for dilated retinal examinations and a list of patients due for diabetic retinal examination.
There were 25 and 27% increases in the percentage of diabetic patients who received diabetic retinal examinations in 1995 compared with the percentages in 1993 and 1994, respectively. The increase in diabetic retinal examinations was most significant after the intervention (odds ratio = 1.4). Furthermore, the improvements in compliance after the intervention were almost identical between the studies implemented on the East and West Coasts.
This study and the prior study demonstrate that such a “reminder” intervention can improve compliance with diabetic retinal screening recommendations. A generalizable intervention, such as this, may be applicable on a national level. For these programs to be successful, however, HMOs and physicians must have a collaborative relationship.