EHR Use May Benefit Diabetes Patients

As healthcare delivery evolves to be more efficient and cost-effective, health technology continues to show the biggest promise.

As healthcare delivery evolves to be more efficient and cost-effective, health technology continues to show the biggest promise. Integration of “big data” in the healthcare industry could relieve the persistent cost and quality deficiencies in the healthcare system. Meaningful use of “big data” and electronic health records (EHRs) could set a foundation for new care delivery models for an entire population. And now, a recent study finds the use of EHRs can reduce diabetes patients’ rates of emergency-room visits and hospitalizations.

Based on research conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California system, EHR implementation and use over a 5-year period reduced emergency room visits by 5.5%, lowered overall hospitalizations by 5.2%, and decreased non-elective hospitalizations by 6.1%.

“EHRs are becoming increasingly common and will soon be the standard of medical care. It makes intuitive sense that better real-time access to information will lead to higher quality of care, especially in a disease such as diabetes that requires a broad-based multifactorial approach,” Gregory A. Nichols, PhD, said in a recent article. “However, acceptance of EHRs by clinicians requires that the systems facilitate practice rather than becoming an expensive and time-consuming barrier to quality care.”

A similar study in The American Journal of Managed Care says that more than 3 in 4 hospitals are participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. More than half of those hospitals have achieved Stage 1 meaningful use.

“Hospitals attesting to meaningful use are not simply doing the minimum necessary to receive the incentives; instead, the vast majority of patients in these hospitals are being cared for using EHRs,” wrote the authors. “For policy makers, this finding should offer reassurance that they selected thresholds that were achievable. It also suggests that an approach of gradually raising the threshold may not be necessary, and future criteria could instead focus on new uses of EHRs that may deliver greater improvements in both the quality and costs of care.”

Around the Web

Healthcare’s “Big Data” Challenge [AJMC]

Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, Discusses How Stage 2 Meaningful Use Will Affect Medicare and Medicaid [AJMC]

Outpatient EHRs May Improve Diabetes Management [Medscape]

Two Studies Highlight Benefits of Electronic Health Records [US News & World Report]

Early Results From the Hospital Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs [AJMC]