Diabetics receive better care from docs with EHRs

Although meeting Meaningful Use hasn't exactly been the easiest of feats for hospital CIOs, perhaps they can take solace in knowing that their patients will receive vastly superior care to those treated by doctors using paper records, according to the results of a new study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine

Overall, 51 percent of participating patients treated at practices with electronic health records (EHR) received care that met four out of four care standards used in the study: timely blood sugar measurements, management of kidney problems, eye exams and pneumonia vaccinations. Only 7 percent of patients at practices using paper records received the same level of care.

In addition, care and outcome improvements on an annual basis were 10 and 4 percent greater, respectively, for practices using EHRs when compared to their paper-based counterparts. 

Lead author Randall Cebul, a professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University, said he and his team weren't surprised by the study's outcome and acknowledged that EHRs aren't "an end-all-be-all" healthcare solution in a post on Health IT Buzz

"But results from our study provide optimism that the President's faith is well-placed," he said. 

Former National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. David Blumenthal echoed those sentiments, adding that the study "supports the expectation that federal support of electronic health records will generate quality-related returns on...investment." 

The study examined more than 27,000 adult patients with diabetes, who sought treatment at 46 Cleveland-area medical practices. More than 500 primary-care doctors were involved in the study, as well, which ran from July 2007 to June 2010. It included patients of all insurance types, including those on Medicare, Medicaid, and no insurance. 

To learn more:
- check out the study in NEJM
- here's the accompanying press release
- read this Health IT Buzz post