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Personalized Medicine Reaches Endocrinologists

Medical app gets patients fully involved in their own care and lets diabetes specialists monitor them 24/7.

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Allscripts launched My Care Team-Clinical, an integrated diabetes management system, at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference Monday. The tool lets diabetic patients who monitor their blood glucose (BG) levels at home plug the BG meter into their computer and transmit the data to their healthcare provider.

MCT-Clinical is a software platform that works in conjunction with Allscripts' electronic health records (EHR) system to transmit not only BG readings but weight, vital signs, caloric intake, and exercise details to a database that clinicians can then analyze and monitor for danger signals.

UMass Memorial in Worchester, Mass., has enrolled more than 2,700 patients in the MCT-Clinical diabetes monitoring system and reports significant improvements in its patient flow and better collaboration among its interdisciplinary team of clinicians. Anecdotal evidence suggests the program is also improving clinical outcomes, although there's no published peer-reviewed data to support that claim yet.

[ Read more from the most important live event in health IT on our HIMSS Special Report page. ]

Diabetics might typically see their endocrinologist once every few months, making it difficult for the doctor to adequately monitor the disease's progress. The technology built into the Allscripts platform lets providers provide care that is more personalized because it offers the chance to spot outliers--those with BG levels that are dangerously high or low.

Although MCT-Clinical collects thousands of BG readings on thousands of patients, it is capable of pulling out those readings that clinicians believe are most relevant. "It allows clinicians to set their own rules," said Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman. This lets the clinician ask the program to alert them when patients' readings drop below 60 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl) or above 200 mg/dl, for example. Then the practitioner can program the system to send out messages to patients to adjust their diet or raise their insulin dose as needed.

Joseph Skrzek, a 25-year-old diabetes patient enrolled in the UMass Memorial program, said that the program was helping. "My HbAIc levels [a measure of long-term blood glucose control] were pretty good, but they've dropped below 6 since I started using the system ... I now test my blood sugars six or seven times per day and use the system to sync my glucose numbers with what I ate and how much I exercised."

The University of San Francisco Diabetes Center also has plans to put MCT-Clinical in place. "Not only does the system foster patient self-management, it enables us to gather clinical data, which is critical to our success in the fight against diabetes," said Henry Rodriquez, the center's clinical director, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

Healthcare providers must collect all sorts of performance data to meet emerging standards. The new Pay For Performance issue of InformationWeek Healthcare delves into the huge task ahead. Also in this issue: Why personal health records have flopped. (Free registration required.)

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