In a diabetes study, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers found that physicians who received periodic feedback reports based on chart reviews of their care of patients with diabetes, plus performance goals called "achievable benchmarks of care," significantly outperformed similar doctors who received only the chart reviews and standard performance feedback. Patients of doctors who were provided the benchmarks had 33 percent to 57 percent higher odds of receiving long-term glucose control measurement, serum cholesterol testing, foot exams and influenza vaccinations than patients of the other physicians. Achievable benchmarks of care are standards of excellence attained by top performers among peer physicians, which provide a reference for doctors to assess their own performance.
According to the study's leader, Catarina I. Kiefe, PhD, MD, if achievable benchmarks of care were used widely for improving the quality of medical care for diabetics, the estimated increase in influenza vaccinations would reduce the incidence of the disease, which can lead to pneumonia, and could prevent as many as 584 deaths a year from the diseases among Medicare patients. For details, see "Improving Quality Improvement Using Achievable Benchmarks for Physician Feedback: A Randomized Controlled Trial" by Dr. Kiefe, Jeroan Allison, M.D., O. Dale Williams, Ph.D., and others. The study appears in the June 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.