BMC health services research 2017 11 2117(1) 759 doi 10.1186/s12913-017-2700-7
Recent emphasis on value based care and population management, such as Accountable Care Organizations in the United States, promote patient navigation to improve the quality of care and reduce costs. Evidence supporting the efficacy of patient navigation for chronic disease care is limited. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of a patient navigation program on medical and administrative outcomes among patients with diabetes in an urban, safety-net hospital clinic setting.
A retrospective cohort study with pre- and post-intervention periods was conducted. Eligible patients were those with A1C ≥ 8.5% and at least one appointment no-show in the previous 12 months. The intervention and reference groups were balanced on observed characteristics and baseline outcome levels using propensity score matching. The effect of patient navigation was isolated using the difference-in-differences approach. Primary outcomes were A1C, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, random urine microalbumin, the number of scheduled appointments, clinic visits, emergency visits, and inpatient stays, and the percentage of arrivals, cancellations, and no-shows to scheduled appointments.
Of 797 eligible patients, 328 entered the navigation program. Matching reduced the sample size to 392 individuals (196 in each group). Patient navigation resulted in improved A1C (-1.1 percentage points; p < .001), more scheduled appointments (+ 5.3 per year; p < .001), more clinic visits (+6.4 per year; p < .001), more arrivals to scheduled appointments (+7.4 percentage points; p = .009) and fewer no-shows (-9.8 percentage points; p < .001). CONCLUSIONS
Navigation was associated with improved glycemic control and better clinic engagement among patients with diabetes. Further research is important to identify what features of navigation in diabetes care are critical to achieving success and to understand navigators’ role in other settings.