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Study: EHR Use Linked to Improved Care for Diabetics

September 13, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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The use of electronic health records (EHRs) in a clinical setting led to a decrease in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for patients with diabetes, a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found.

Researchers, from the Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, looked at the medical records of 169,711 diabetic patients over 1 year of age in the Kaiser Permanente diabetes clinical registry before and after the implementation of the organization’s EHR system. What they found was that room 29 fewer times per 1,000 patients and were hospitalized 13 fewer times per 1,000 patients annually after the implementation.

Annual ED visits declined 5.5 percent, from 519 visits per 1,000 diabetes patients before electronic health records to 490 visits per 1,000 diabetes patients. Hospitalizations declined 5.2 percent, from 239 per 1,000 diabetes patients before electronic health records to 252 per 1,000 diabetes patients.

“Using the electronic health record in the outpatient setting improved the quality of care in ways that cumulatively resulted in fewer negative events,” said Mary Reed, Ph.D. staff scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and the study’s lead author, in a statement. “A reduction in the number of emergency department visits represents not just improvements in diabetes care, but the cumulative effect of the EHR across many different care pathways and conditions.”

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