Diabetes care improves with EHRs

September 10, 2011

Care for patients with diabetes improved appreciably when their physicians use electronic health records extensively.

Care for patients with diabetes improved appreciably when their physicians use electronic health records (EHRs) extensively, according to a recent study.

Physicians who participated in the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative from 2006 to 2008 significantly increased their ability to generate and use registries for laboratory results and medication usage. The more actively physicians used their EHRs, the more they used registries, particularly for care of patients with diabetes.

Researchers looked at the use of registries in the years immediately before and after the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative program installed free EHRs for participating physicians. In 2005, 44% of physicians could generate a laboratory results registry; by 2009, 78% could.

The use of registries "is considered a measure of physicians' engagement with [EHR] systems and a proxy for high-quality healthcare," according to the researchers. Registries are lists of patients with specific health risks, diagnoses, laboratory results, or medications that enable physicians to assess their own quality measures. The ability to generate registries is one measure of meaningful use of EHRs used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In another study looking at the role of technology in managing diabetes, use of a mobile application was found to reduce A1C levels in patients with type 2 diabetes by nearly 2% over a 1-year period.

Participants received cell phones preloaded with diabetes management software and were asked to enter their blood glucose levels when they tested. The app analyzed the reading, sending a text message coaching the patient on ways to quickly moderate their blood sugar levels if they were too high or low.

The study involved 26 primary care practices with 163 patients. At the end of the year, patients who used the mobile app with provider decision support had a mean drop in glycated hemoglobin of 1.9%. Patients in a control group experienced a decline
of 0.7%.