EMR-driven disease management reduces mortality, costs

EMRs keep on proving their mettle in the area of care coordination.

The latest evidence comes from Kaiser Permanente Colorado, which improved outcomes by mining its EMR and electronic disease registries to match patients with heart disease to clinical pharmacy specialists and "personalized" nurses. In a study published in the November edition of the journal Pharmacotherapy, Kaiser researchers reported an 89 percent reduction in mortality, as well as cost reductions of $60 per day for cardiac patients enrolled in a disease management program, as compared to a control group.

The program, called the Kaiser Permanente Collaborative Cardiac Care Service, can notify pharmacy specialists if a patient doesn't pick up a prescription or if a cholesterol test reveals a need to change medications, for example. The pharmacists or nurses then can contact individual patients to help them make the necessary adjustments to their treatment.

Rather than seeing costs increase due to the extra service, healthcare expenditures declined significantly for patients in the program. Hospitalization costs averaged $19 per day for participants, vs. $69 per day for those receiving standard treatment. Kaiser also reported small cost savings on physician office visits and medications due to the better coordination.

"This program works because it is a team approach," study co-author Dr. John Merenich, medical director of the Clinical Pharmacy Cardiac Risk Service at KP Colorado, tells Healthcare IT News. "Our teams of nurses and clinical pharmacists, as well as our health information technology, require significant investment. We always knew it was the right investment because it saved lives. Now we know it's also the right investment because it provides the highest quality care at a lower cost. This is the value people have been looking for in health care."

For more:
- check out this Healthcare IT News story
- view the study abstract in Pharmacotherapy