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Port Huron Hospital Diabetes Health News for Winter 2011

2011-12-09

Port Huron Hospital, Port Huron, Michigan, Diabetes Health News for Winter 2011

Electronic Medical Records Boost Diabetes Care

Electronic medical records (EMRs) may improve care for people with diabetes by ensuring better communication between doctors and patients. Clinical offices with EMRs are more likely to meet all four benchmarks for diabetes care.

Women looking at patient file

In a recent study, researchers analyzed the medical records of more than 27,000 adults who received care for diabetes at clinics in the Cleveland area. They wanted to see if there was any difference between results at clinics that had adopted electronic records and those that hadn't.

"The differences," says study author Randall C. Cebul, M.D., at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, "were rather remarkable."

Better care

After adjusting their statistics so they wouldn't be thrown off by factors such as differences in medical conditions among patients, the researchers found that people who visited clinics with EMRs were more than a third more likely to have received care that met four clinical benchmarks. The benchmarks require that patients undergo eye examinations, get a pneumococcal vaccination, get help to manage kidney health, and track HbA1c, which helps monitors blood sugar control.

Patients at clinics with electronic records were also 15 percent more likely to meet all five benchmarks for their personal health, including specific ranges for blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.

Improved communication

Proponents of EMRs say they make it easier for doctors to communicate with patients and with one another. The records are also supposed to cut down on medical errors by doing things like providing warnings about medication allergies.

Dr. Cebul acknowledged that his study didn't prove that electronic records directly improved patient care; other factors could explain the difference. It's possible, for instance, that the clinics with paper records simply provided worse care in general -- their decision to not move to electronic records could be a sign that they're behind the times in other ways.

And clinics often failed to fully follow guidelines about care for people with diabetes even when they used electronic records.

Progress still needed

The study findings also reveal how few patients met all the standards. Of those who went to clinics with electronic records, the unadjusted statistics show that just 51 percent met all four benchmarks for care, compared with only 7 percent of those at clinics that relied on paper. And just 44 percent of those at the EMR clinics met four out of five benchmarks for how they were doing medically, compared with only 16 percent for those at clinics that relied on paper.

"We have a long way to go," Dr. Cebul says.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Port Huron Hospital is not responsible for the content of the following Internet sites.)

American Diabetes Association - Visiting Your Health Care Team

CDC - Electronic Medical Record

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - EMR vs. EHR - What is the Difference?

Winter 2011

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Working with Your Health Care Team

Diabetes affects the body in many complex ways, and having a team to help you stay as healthy and vital as possible, for as long as possible, is critical.

Yet no matter how much you depend on health care providers, you also have an important role as team leader. Developing a take-charge attitude can help you avoid some of the serious complications that can come with unmanaged diabetes.

No one but you can stay on top of:

  • Taking daily medications

  • Planning healthy meals

  • Controlling weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol

  • Getting regular exercise

  • Keeping appointments for regular dental care, eye exams, and foot care

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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