Impact of health education activities on hospitalization of diabetic members in an HMO
Critical to the success of the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) model is the belief that the practice of preventative health care will reduce or control the medical costs associated with the treatment of chronic illness. The purpose of this study was to determine if one component of this preventative care, specifically health or patient education activities and services, did impact the use of costly medical care (i.e. hospitalization) among members of an HMO who were diagnosed as diabetic. Focusing on a branch of a large national HMO located in north Texas, this study examined the frequency of hospitalizations of diabetic members (n = 2,515) of the HMO membership in relationship to their participation in health or patient education activities, with additional analysis of the sample by age and gender. Analysis of the data using Chi-square techniques indicated that diabetic members who were in contact with a health or patient educator were hospitalized at a significantly lower than expected rate when compared to those diabetic members who were not in contact with a health or patient educator. Additionally, this relationship held true for older diabetic members in general and for older female members in particular.