Using the Electronic Health Record to actively engage diabetes patients in their own care results in improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels, better vaccination compliance and increased tobacco cessation rates, according to a new Geisinger study.
Geisinger Health System launched an Electronic Health Record-driven care program for its 20,000 diabetes patients in 2005. A study published in April's Journal of General Internal Medicine showed improvements for most of those diabetic patients:
- the percentage of patients receiving pneumonia vaccinations increased from 56 to 80%;
- the percentage of patients receiving microalbumin test for possible kidney complications increased from 57 to 87%;
- the percentage of patients with an optimal cholesterol level increased from 54 to 57%;
- the percentage of documented non-smokers increased from 77 to 82%.
As part of the work, Geisinger developed a series of nine "best practice" guidelines that its clinical teams follow when caring for diabetics. Many of those guidelines rely on Geisinger's $90 million Electronic Health Record.
The Electronic Health Record automatically generates reminders to make sure patients receive timely blood tests and vaccinations, allows patients and doctors to immediately review lab results and also provides instant feedback to physicians about the health of their patients.
A key part of the program also involves Geisinger's Internet portal, MyGeisinger, where patients can e-mail their doctor results of home glucose tests, schedule health appointments and renew prescriptions.
"This approach shows the importance of incorporating information technology directly into patient care," Geisinger Medical Director of Performance Improvement Frederick Bloom, MD said. "These tools can be used by patients at home and doctors in clinics and the result is better overall patient health."
An estimated 16 million Americans suffer from diabetes. It is estimated that diabetes-related medical expenditures in the U.S. hit $116 billion last year.
"Diabetes is a huge public health problem in this country," Geisinger Director of Internal Medicine Valerie Weber, MD said. "With that in mind, our doctors made small changes to their work routines that had huge benefits for their patients."
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