Diabetes care improves with new information technology

August 11, 2011

Add effective use of technology to diet, exercise and medication compliance when it comes to helping patients control their diabetes. A study found that care for patients with diabetes was appreciably improved when their physicians used electronic health records (EHRs) extensively. And lowering A1c? There?s an app for that.

Add effective use of technology to diet, exercise, and medication compliance when it comes to helping patients control their diabetes.

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

Physicians who participated in the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative from 2006-2008 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 diabetic patients, researchers found.

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. In the same period the percentage of physicians who could generate a medication registry rose from 33% to 83%. The ability to generate a diagnostic registry remained stable at just under 90%, for practices of all sizes.

The use of registries “is considered a measure of physicians’ engagement with electronic health record systems and a proxy for high-quality healthcare,” according to the study’s authors. 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 one-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 too low.

Patients also received educational messages regarding lifestyle changes and disease management. Results were sent to their physician’s office.

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%. Controls experienced a decline of .7%.

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