New tool uses EHRs to customize diabetes care

Patients with diabetes who receive treatment at HealthPartners clinics soon may be able to use a new personalized tool--called the Diabetes Wizard--which may be one of the first applications to use electronic health records to customize individual care.

The Wizard has been designed by researchers and physicians at the Minneapolis-based organization to help physicians--particularly in primary care settings--work with diabetic patients to tailor the best treatment plans for them. This will include evaluating appropriate lifestyle improvements and determining the medications that provide the best blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol control.

The tool takes more patient detail into account than previously available in "prompts"--or reminders--in the EHR. This includes data on patient age, current medications, smoking status, kidney function, history of heart disease, or congestive heart failure. It also will look for gaps in care, such as the failure to receive a screening test for kidney disease.

"The treatment of diabetes is complex for patients and physicians because treatment involves a combination of lifestyle behaviors and many possible medications. The best approach to caring for diabetes is customized and personalized," JoAnn Sperl-Hillen, MD, senior research investigator with HealthPartners Research Foundation, said in a statement.

The Wizard was developed and studied by the foundation in collaboration with the HealthPartners Medical Group from October 2006 to May 2007. Eleven clinics, 40 primary care physicians and more than 2,500 patients with type 2 diabetes were part of the study.

For more details:
- here's the HealthPartners announcement
- review the Annals of Family Medicine abstract on the initiative

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