Study: EHRs Can Boost Some Measures of Care for Diabetes Patients

The use of electronic health records can improve certain measurements of care for patients with Type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in the journal Health Services Research, FierceEMR reports (Hirsch, FierceEMR, 1/26).

Study Details

For the study, researchers evaluated the treatment of 14,051 patients with diabetes in 34 primary care settings within the HealthTexas Provider Network, a subsidiary of Baylor Health Care System. Of these patients, 6,376 had physicians who used EHRs.

Over a four-year period, researchers examined diabetes care as a whole and within five measures of diabetes management:

  • HbA1c, which shows average blood sugar control over time;
  • LDL cholesterol;
  • Blood pressure target levels;
  • Documented use of aspirin; and
  • Non-smoking status (Brownlee, Health Behavior News Service, 1/24).

Study Results

Researchers found that patients who received treatment from physicians using EHRs were more likely to receive "optimal care" for Type 2 diabetes.

Specifically, such patients had better outcomes in blood pressure management, aspirin use and smoking cessation than patients whose physicians did not use EHRs, according to the study.

Jeph Herrin -- a co-author of the study from Yale University -- said EHR-generated reminders and improved documentation helped lead to the improved outcomes (FierceEMR, 1/26).

However, the use of EHRs did not significantly improve blood sugar or LDL cholesterol management, according to the study.

Reaction

Spyros Mezitis -- an endocrinologist at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital -- said, "This study showed mixed results."

He added that more research is necessary to develop EHR systems that can help boost all measures of diabetes care (Health Behavior News Service, 1/24).

David Edwards
Having an EHR is like having a treadmill in your living room. It does not mean you use it, or use it well. This "research" is too vague to be truly useful. It is how we use the tool, and how we engage with patients and providers that makes the tool effective.

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