Effectiveness of joint specialist case conferences for building general practice capacity to enhance diabetes care: A pilot study in Western Sydney, Australia
Purpose: Type 2 diabetes mellitus has become a major concern of Australian healthcare providers. From rates of barely more than 1 percent in the mid-90s, diabetes is now the leading cause of morbidity in the country. To combat the growing diabetes epidemic, Western Sydney Local Health District created the Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) initiative. One of the key components of the WSD initiative since 2014 has been joint specialist case conferencing (JSCC). The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the JSCC service including both individual- and practice-based changes. Design/methodology/approach: The authors evaluated the JSCC program by conducting an analysis of patient-level data in addition to a discrete practice-level study. The study aim was to examine both the effect on individual patients and the practice, as well as acceptability of the program for both doctors and their patients. The evaluation included data collection and analysis of primary patient outcomes, as well as a survey of GPs and patients. Patient data on primary outcomes were obtained by accessing and downloading them through GP practice management software by GP practice staff. Findings: The authors found significant improvements at both the patient levels, with reductions in BMI, HbA1c and blood pressure sustained at three years, and at the practice level with improvements in markers of patient management. The authors also found high acceptability of the program from both patients and GPs. Originality/value: This paper provides good evidence for the use of a JSCC program to improve diabetes management in primary care through capacity building with GPs.