EHRs customize, improve blood pressure treatment

Hypertension treatment could improve if providers took a more individualized approach--and utilized electronic health records in doing so--according to a recently published study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, HealthDay News reports.

For the study, researchers analyzed the records of nearly 1 million Veterans Affairs patients with diabetes. The current method of treatment is to provide strict blood pressure control for all patients by trying to reach particular blood pressure target goals. While this provided "dramatic improvement" in blood pressure control, the researchers, from the University of Michigan Health System and the Department of Veterans Affairs, also found that more than 8 percent of patients were being treated too aggressively, and 6 percent were being undertreated, raising concerns that the "one-size-fits-all" approach should be reconsidered.

The researchers recommended that a more individualized treatment approach should be used instead, and said that EHRs could help to make it possible, citing that blood pressure and other health data on individual risks--such as heart disease or balance problems--can be combined.

"Our results show that it is possible to construct a sophisticated, clinically meaningful performance measure using electronic data that includes diagnostic codes, vital signs, and prescription information," they wrote.

The researchers recognized that not all providers may yet have the capability to pull together the patient data to customize blood pressure treatment, but that "the expansion of Meaningful Use criteria for electronic health records may rectify the lack of available data."

Other studies have shown that EHR systems can improve treatment of those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

To learn more:
- read the study
- here's the University of Michigan announcement
- check out this HealthDay News article

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