Patients with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease can benefit when EHRs are used to coordinate their care in a medical home, finds a new report from the eHealth Initiative (eHI.)
The report, based on the results of a 12-month project that tracked 119 patients with Type 2 diabetes and heart disease at two test sites over a six month period, found that EHRs improved these patientsí care coordination in the following process improvement areas: care planning, provider-patient communications, intra-office coordination, more advanced use of EHRs, enhanced patient coaching, improved referral process to specialists, expanded nursing role and more user-friendly information for patients.
The most significant improvements in the medical home model came with building staffing, operations and technical support for care coordination, including a dedicated care coordinator and care goal setting. The EHR systems used at both sites had functions to support care coordination that were not utilized. The report indicates that with proper direction to practitioners, immediate improvements can be achieved with current technology, without requiring substantial new investments. It also points out that additional EHR functionalities could enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of care coordinators
The project, which was conducted in partnership with Health & Technology Vector and sanofi-aventis U.S., highlighted health information exchange issues that need to be addressed. In particular, the project found that practice communities did not have the tools for electronic data exchange between offices, and found that individual providers within each site did not always have compatible EHR systems. Findings from the project indicated that while process improvements were noted in many areas, the mere act of initiating practice change was a major task in itself, and some of the underlying processes necessary for proper care coordination were not available.
Source: eHealth Initiative, June 20, 2011
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