Study indicates electronic medical records improve diabetes care

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25 million Americans suffer from diabetes, and statistics indicate this number is on the rise. In addition, many Americans are living with the disease longer, as strides have been made in the fight against kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

However, a new study suggests electronic medical records could increase the quality of care diabetes patients receive. The study, which was released in September by the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the patients of doctors who used EMR software were 35 percent more likely to receive timely blood sugar measurements, relief for kidney problems and pneumonia vaccinations.

The percentages were finalized after adjusting for factors such as race and income, with the original measurements suggesting as much as 51 percent of patients received all four of the benchmarks for care from doctors who used this new technology. By comparison, only 7 percent of patients whose doctors used the pen and paper method were found to receive a level of care that met the four benchmarks.

"Electronic health records, when used properly and in a sophisticated way, improve the quality and efficiency of care," David Blumenthal, a professor at Harvard University Medical School, told the Bangor Daily News.

In total, researchers involved in the study observed the treatment of more than 27,000 diabetes patients from July 2009 to June 2010. While some detractors say the study did not definitively prove the the EMR technology was the sole reason for the quality care, on average, patients in these programs tended to improve more quickly, the study's authors said.

As a result, small facilities may want to make the switch to EMR software soon, as trusted vendors such as such as Practice Choice, Allscripts, Medisoft and Lytec each provide effective solutions. Even if the practice does not treat many diabetes sufferers, it is still capable of improving the medical practice management doctors can provide.