Targeted Interventions Increase Eye Exam Rates, Study Shows

   Targeted, one-on-one interventions are highly effective in increasing the rates of diabetic eye exams, according to the results of a study presented at the 2010 Scientific Assembly the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) in Denver.

   Elizabeth Longmier, MD, of Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program in Houston, was principal investigator.  Her goal was to determine if a targeted diabetic eye exam intervention would increase eye exam rates in a family medicine residency clinic. The research just reported on is a continuation of work begun as part of the AAFP GO! Diabetes Metric project.

   Two interventions for improving diabetic eye exam rates were tested over a three-month intervention period on diabetic patients without a documented current eye exam.  The first intervention was an in-person eye exam reminder for patients who came to the clinic for a scheduled office visit.  The second intervention was a mailed-outp report card to remind eligible patients to have the eye exam done.  The patients were assigned to an intervention based on their subclinic within the larger family medicine clinic. There were no known biases.

   Aggregate data compared the completed eye exam rates between intervention groups at baseline and after the three-month intervention period. The baseline rates were 19% and 18% for the in-person and mail-out groups, respectively. After the intervention, these rates were 25% and 18%, respectively.  In a sub-analysis including only patients who were seen in clinic during the intervention period, the rates were 32% and 21%.

   "We saw a statistically significant increase in eye exam rates for patients in the in-person intervention group," Dr. Longmier concluded. "The in-person intervention was easy and low-cost to implement with current clinical staff," she added.