Changes in EHR use, QI initiatives help clinics to improve care

Small clinics often lack experience with quality improvement initiatives and electronic clinical data to help patients with diabetes, according to a case study of the Utah Beacon Experience. But with proper training, such facilities can use those resources to improve patient care.

The Utah program examined ways to improve care provided to patients with diabetes in three Utah counties, according to the case study, published in the journal eGEMs. Utah Beacon collaborated with 21 small, independent clinics and two large healthcare organizations.

When the project started, the researchers found the smaller clinics did not have the resources to implement quality improvement (QI) initiatives. In addition, they found that current EHRs are lacking when it comes to assisting in QI initiatives and that smaller clinics have limited HIT experience to help patients through the use of electronic data.

Another case study, of practices in the Colorado Beacon Consortium, also found that primary care practices require focused efforts to incorporate health IT into their work to improve care, FierceHealthIT previously reported.

The Beacon program offered healthcare professionals learning sessions on topics including diabetes care and electronic health records use. Teams were also trained in running and using EHR registry reports to identify and contact patients overdue for diabetes screening tests, as well as the importance of training patients in self-care activities, according to the study.

The project led to changes in how EHRs are used by practice staff to improve the care of patients with diabetes, and also created a framework for sustainability.

EHRs have been helping diabetes patients for some time. A study in May 2012 found using an insulin order set within a hospital's EHR system can improve glycemic control for hospitalized diabetes patients.

To learn more:
- read the case study (.pdf)