Minn. practice pulls EMR data to screen high-risk groups

Now here's a perfect example of how properly implemented EMRs can encourage preventive care: HealthPartners Medical Group in Minneapolis is mining its records to raise awareness of and improve screening for colorectal cancer among African-American patients. The mortality rate from colorectal cancer is 48 percent higher for blacks than for whites nationally, according to HealthPartners Medical Director Dr. Brian Rank. "Our goal is to save lives by ensuring that more African-American patients in our clinics receive recommended colorectal cancer screening in a timely manner," Rank says, according to Healthcare IT News.

The practice, which has collected data on patient race and language preference for 90 percent of its patients since 2004, is mining its EMR to generate automatic reminders for African-Americans to have colonoscopies starting at age 45, five years earlier than those of other races, per the recommendation of the American College of Gastroenterology. The EMR also takes race and ethnicity into consideration when generating reminders for other screening tests, such as mammograms.

"We have made reducing health disparities a top priority," Rank says. "Our ability to systematically customize care across our clinics for specific groups of patients would not be possible without our electronic medical record and the race and language preference data provided by our patients."

To learn more:
- read this Healthcare IT News story