PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine health care providers recently got some very good news when it comes to the management of diabetes. The state has half as many diabetes-related hospitalizations per capita as the rest of the states in the Northeast, and it is well below the national average.
Ten years ago, Maine's health care community decided it was time to take a systematic look at how to keep diabetics healthy.
"From a health care quality perspective, diabetes is a low hanging fruit," said Dr. Dora Mills, Director of the Maine Centers for Disease Control. "People with diabetes suffer at very high rates of complications and yet much of these complications are very preventable."
Dr. Thomas Claffey, who headed up Intermed's efforts on diabetes, says doctors knew what to do -- they just needed a system to make sure no patients fell through the cracks.
"A lot of it is spending time with people to expand on the 15 minute office visit that they spend with the doctor by having them visit with a team of people," says Claffey.
State health officials say the reason Maine has been able to do such a good job managing diabetes is that maine is a small enough state that the business community, insurance agencies and state health officials have all been able to get togehter in one room to figure out how to tackle it.
Mills says Maine health care providers, insurance companies and business leaders are now looking at ways to prevent diabetes -- since maine still has a high incidence of the disease.
They're also looking at how to manage other chronic illnesses using the model they developed with diabetes care.