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The use of electronic health records is associated with a decrease in emergency department visits and hospitalizations among patients with diabetes, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical AssociationMedical News Todayreports (Medical News Today, 9/11).

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California analyzed all 169,711 records for patients enrolled in Kaiser Permanente’s diabetes registry between 2004 and 2009 (Durben Hirsch, FierceHealthIT, 9/10). In 2005, the health system began staggering EHR implementations across 45 outpatient facilities.

Study Findings

The researchers found that EHR implementation was associated with a:

  • 10.50% decline in hospitalizations for preventable, ambulatory-care sensitive conditions, or about 7.08 fewer hospitalizations per 1,000 patients annually;
  • 6.14% decline in non-elective hospital admissions, or about 10.92 fewer admissions per 1,000 patients annually;
  • 5.54% decline in ED visits, from an expected 519.12 per 1,000 patients to 490.32 annually; and
  • 5.21% decline in hospital admissions, from an expected 251.6 per 1,000 patients to 238.5 annually (Walsh, “The Gupta Guide,” MedPage Today, 9/10).

However, researchers found that EHR implementation did not affect:

  • The number of physician office visits per year, which remained steady at an average of six annually;
  • How often patients experienced diabetes exacerbations; and
  • How often patients developed cardiovascular diseases (Pittman, Reuters, 9/10).

The researchers concluded that because EHRs “can be used in numerous ways to manage patients with diabetes, including many with multiple conditions, we believe that our finding of reduced ED visits and hospitalizations may represent not just improvements in diabetes care but also the cumulative effect of the EHR across many different pathways and conditions” (“The Gupta Guide,”MedPage Today, 9/10).


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