Electronic Record Keeping Associated With Reduced ER Trips For Diabetics
September 11, 2013

Electronic Record Keeping Associated With Reduced ER Trips For Diabetics

redOrbit staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online

The use of electronic health records (EHR) in hospitals has been linked to a 5.5 percent decrease in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for people with diabetes, according to new research appearing in Tuesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The study authors reviewed the medical records of nearly 170,000 diabetic patients over one year of age in the Kaiser Permanente diabetes clinical registry both before and after the integrated managed care consortium implemented their EHR program. They found that out of every 1,000 patients, there were 29 fewer ER visits and 13 fewer hospitalizations after the organization switched over to electronic record keeping.

“Using the electronic health record in the outpatient setting improved the quality of care in ways that cumulatively resulted in fewer negative events,” lead author Mary Reed, staff scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California, said 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,” she added.

Reed and her colleagues also found that annual emergency room visits declined 5.5 percent, from 519 visits per 1,000 diabetic patients prior to EHR implementation to 490 visits per 1,000 diabetic patients afterwards, and annual hospitalizations dropped 5.2 percent from 239 per 1,000 patients before to 252 per 1,000 after. However, they did not report any significant change in the number of office visits as a result of electronic record keeping.

“This study demonstrates that when doctors and patients use an EHR, good things happen,” said Marc G. Jaffe, study co-author and Kaiser Permanente endocrinologist in South San Francisco. “The current study adds to our understanding by describing how an EHR like KP HealthConnect can help doctors keep patients healthy when used as part of an integrated care delivery system.”

The research was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). In addition to the researchers from Kaiser Permanente, experts from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Massachusetts General Hospital were also involved in the study.