Electronic health records can help improve health outcomes for patients at high risk of kidney disease, according to a study published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, Health Data Management reports.
For the five-year study, researchers from Kaiser Permanente Hawaii used electronic laboratory results to rank more than 10,000 patients according to their risk of kidney failure. None of the patients had been referred to a specialist at the time of the study.
Physicians monitored the most high-risk patients to ensure that they received quality care (Goedert, Health Data Management, 7/9).
The researchers then used Kaiser's EHR system HealthConnect to determine how to proceed with a patient's care.
After consulting with the EHR, kidney specialists recommended that some patients undergo more intensive specialty care. For other patients, specialists provided the primary care physician with a treatment plan.
The study found that the EHR consultation system helped boost early intervention for patients at high risk of kidney disease.
In addition, the project reduced the number of late specialist referrals by two-thirds. Researchers defined late specialist referrals as those occurring within four months of the onset of end-stage renal disease.
Brian Lee, a kidney specialist with Kaiser Permanente Hawaii, said the project "illustrates the benefits of leveraging technology and the expertise within a multi-specialty group practice."
He added that electronic databases can help health care providers identify disease trends and recommend treatment for high-risk patients (Merrill, Healthcare IT News, 7/10).