A recent study comparing health care outcomes for diabetics found that Cleveland-area patients whose providers used electronic medical records - otherwise known as e-records - achieved better health than those patients whose providers relied on paper files. The critical difference being that e-records foster better communication between doctors and patients.
In a statement to US News & World Report-HealthDay, Dr. Randall D. Cebul, a professor of medicine at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University, said diabetic patients "did better and improved faster" at clinics using e-records than at clinics using paper files. "The differences were rather remarkable."
The study, published in the September issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed the records of more than 27,000 adults being treated for diabetes at Cleveland-area clinics.
After controlling for variables, researchers found that patients who visited facilities using e-records were more than 33 percent more likely to have received care that met all four clinical benchmarks for diabetes care. Those patients were also 15 percent more likely to meet all five personal health benchmarks, which track ranges for weight, blood pressure and cholesterol.
NUMEROUS FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO IMPROVED CARE QUALITY
While the study doesn't directly link electronic records with improved patient care, it highlighted a number of contributing factors. For example, the e-records system makes communication easier between doctors and patients, and also with each other. This ease of communication facilitates the exchange of information that draws attention to possible problems and allows them to be addressed.
An electronic system also helps providers avoid medical errors by delivering warnings on medication allergies or potentially harmful drug combinations.