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Innovative Diabetes Program in McLean County a Success

Results for program's first year show positive outcomes

BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL, Ill., July 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Diabetes Checks & Balances, a unique program launched locally to help people manage the disease, helped decrease emergency room visits and hospital admissions among participants.

The first program of its kind in Illinois, Diabetes Checks & Balances encourages people with diabetes to contact their physicians and arrange for four tests, including HbA1c (a test indicating the level of blood sugar control), low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol, an eye exam, and screening for kidney disease. More than 600 area residents met the criteria for participation, and 29% received all four of the tests -- almost twice as many as in 2006, before the program started.

"These results are an impressive start. We will work to continue to drive people with type 2 diabetes to their doctors and other resources that can help them improve how they manage their conditions," said Barb Baurer, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of COUNTRY Financial.

The American Diabetes Association estimates more than 9,500 -- or roughly seven percent -- of the McLean County population has diabetes; and more than 120 people in the county die each year from diabetes or diabetes-related complications.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) collaborated with McLean County employers and health care providers on the Diabetes Checks & Balances program, including COUNTRY Financial, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., State Farm Insurance(R), and numerous other local employers to target this population and move them toward care.

"Blue Cross' goal was to join together with local employers and providers and help our members in the area who have diabetes be healthier," said Scott Sarran, MD, BCBSIL's chief medical officer. "Similar to the 'medical home' concept, as part of this program, physicians provided comprehensive coordinated care for their patients that enhanced their health."

As part of the program, BCBSIL identified its local members with diabetes, and sent them information about diabetes and about the program. Through the program, local physicians became actively engaged in improving the care of diabetics. In addition, BCBSIL hosted diabetes screenings in the workplace and elsewhere throughout the area.

Results Highlights

Of those who participated:

-- Seventy-nine percent had an HbA1c test, an increase of 14 percentage points compared to 2006. The percentage of people with diabetes with controlled blood sugar improved by 13 percentage points.

-- Seventy-six percent were screened for low-density lipoprotein (LDL), up 14 percentage points over 2006. The rate of LDL control increased from 52% to 65%.

-- Eye exams increased as well, by 18 percentage points compared to the year before.

-- An additional 13 percent received medical attention for kidney disease.

"Taking these tests and knowing the results are significant first steps toward better diabetes management. We are encouraged that with early detection, treatment and proper management, people with diabetes may prevent or delay the onset of complications associated with the disease, which range from heart and blood vessel disease, blindness and kidney failure to nerve damage, foot ulcers and urological problems," Mickeisha Armstrong, Manager-Benefits and HRIS, Mitsubishi.

With more than 7 million members, BCBSIL ( is the largest health insurance company in Illinois. Started in 1936, BCBSIL is committed to promoting the health and wellness of its members and its communities through accessible, cost-effective, quality health care. BCBSIL is a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company (HCSC). HCSC is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
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