EHRs Improve Patient Outcomes, Kaiser Study Says - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
08:39 AM
Connect Directly

EHRs Improve Patient Outcomes, Kaiser Study Says

EHR use improves diabetes control and helps doctors pinpoint patients requiring more intensive treatment, reports large Kaiser Permanente study.

8 Health IT Certification Programs Offer Career Boost
8 Health IT Certification Programs Offer Career Boost
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Physicians who use EHRs are more likely to identify diabetic patients who need more intense drug treatment, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente. Similarly, EHR use was linked to better management of disease risk factors and greater improvements among patients with poor control of their diabetes and lipid levels.

The study, which appears in the current issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, is the first to demonstrate how EHRs aid clinicians in better targeting treatment changes and follow-up testing for diabetic patients.

This study showed that "EHRs really helped our alignment with quality measures and clinical guidelines for treatment," said Marc Jaffe, clinical leader at Kaiser Permanente Northern California cardiovascular risk reduction program.

Jaffe went on to explain, "Increases in information availability, decision support, and order-entry functionality help clinicians to identify the most appropriate patients for drug-treatment intensification and retesting, which leads to better care of patients with diabetes."

[ For the latest development on Meaningful Use, see Meaningful Use Stage 2 Rules Finalized. ]

Mary Reed, research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California division of research, said the team looked at "three tightly linked steps" in the care of diabetic patients: whether or not the patient received medication treatment intensifications, whether or not he underwent follow-up testing, and whether or not a patient's blood sugar or lipid levels were affected by the EHR.

"All three times, we saw the EHR was associated with significant improvements. Patients who had high hemoglobin [A1c] or LDL levels, meaning they had high blood sugar or high cholesterol levels, were more likely to have the medication treatment intensification if the provider was using an EHR." The same can be said with patient follow-up testing, she added. "... [I]t's the first large, rigorously designed study that shows EHRs are improving patient health, and patients are truly benefiting from these."

The study included 169,711 patients with diabetes. Researchers used a quasi-experimental design that took advantage of outpatient EHR implementation across 17 medical centers in Kaiser Permanente's Northern California system. The system implemented Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect in the hospitals and 45 medical office buildings between 2005 and 2010.

"What Kaiser did, completely unrelated to the study, was a staggered roll out schedule for the EHR implementation," said Reed. "They sequentially rolled out the EHR at one medical center after the other, across all 17." This allowed Reed and her team to compare "pre and post" patient data at every medical center. "Because of the staggered nature, we were able to look at changes over time," she said.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
10/7/2012 | 3:52:09 AM
re: EHRs Improve Patient Outcomes, Kaiser Study Says
While it may seem obvious when you think about it, it often takes a while for people to come to a better understanding of the usefulness of EHRs. How else could a group find out all their diabetic patients with high A1Cs and other lab values? Then once they have that list, how can they maintain the consistent follow-up needed to ensure compliance? EHRs are such useful tools for chronic disease management and I'm hopeful that groups with EHRs will keep publishing articles like this so we can encourage better adoption!
Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Predictions for Cloud Computing in 2020
James Kobielus, Research Director, Futurum,  1/9/2020
What's Next: AI and Data Trends for 2020 and Beyond
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/30/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
Flash Poll