Electronic Records Tied to Better Diabetes Care, Outcomes

Across all insurance types, higher achievement of care, outcome standards with electronic records

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Medical practices using electronic health records (EHRs) achieve significantly higher composite standards for diabetes care and outcomes than those using paper records, according to a study published in the Sept. 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Randall D. Cebul, M.D., from the Case Western Reserve University at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, and colleagues compared the achievement of and improvement in quality standards for diabetes at practices using EHRs with those using paper records. After adjusting for covariates (insurance type, race or ethnic group, age, sex, estimated household income, and level of education), generalized estimating equations were used to calculate the percentage-point difference between EHR-based and paper-based practices with respect to achievement of composite standards for diabetes care (four standards) and outcomes (five standards) in 27,207 adults with diabetes seen at 46 practices, from July 2009 to June 2010; safety-net practices accounted for 38 percent of the patients. Separate analyses were conducted for overall sample and for safety-net practices.

The investigators found that, after adjusting for covariates, the achievement of composite standards for diabetes care and outcomes was significantly higher, at EHR sites than paper-based sites (35.1 and 15.2 percent, respectively). There was a correlation between EHR sites and higher achievement on eight of the nine composite standards. EHR sites were also correlated with significantly higher achievement of care and outcome standards, and greater improvement in diabetes care across all insurance types. The results were similar when restricted to safety-net practices.

"These findings support the premise that federal policies encouraging the meaningful use of EHRs may improve the quality of care across insurance types," the authors write.

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