October 19, 2012

Big Brother for future Diabetes Control

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This is a sore subject for many old school doctors who are not enthusiastic about the new mandate of electronic medical records (EMRs). As it stands,  physicians can receive federal payments for meaningful use of complete certified electronic health records (EHRs).

What’s the difference between EMRs and EHRs? The information in EMRs doesn’t travel easily out of the practice.. EHRs are designed to share information with other health care providers. EHRs are a central database of health conditions, if you will,.

Evidence is limited on how EHR use affects clinical care and outcomes. A study researching the outcomes of patients with diabetes followed by EHR was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal.

Kaiser Permanente Northern California followed 169,711 patients with diabetes in 17 medical centers. The patients were measured on their drug  treatment intensification, HbA1c, as well as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol values.

The results of the EHR protocol were effective. Use of an EHR was associated with significant improvements in treatment intensification. The EHR was also associated with significant reductions in HbA1c and LDL cholesterol levels.

At the end of this study, funded by the NIDDK, researchers were pleased. The EHR was associated with improved drug treatment intensification, monitoring, and control among patients with diabetes. The most remarkable improvements were seen in patients with worse control.

Is a federal funding incentive to use a central database for a health condition a bad thing? It’s not really Big Brother, but George Orwell had a vision back in 1949 when 1984 was published. If The Party believes “he who controls the past, controls the future” is controlling the outcome of diabetes – this might be a serendipitous paradigm shift in the state of Oceania (aka Diabetes).

Visit Your Diabetes Health for more resources about health.