WVU study finds diabetic patients benefit from physicians’ use of electronic registry

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A recent study by researchers in the West Virginia University Department of Community Medicine shows that the diabetic patients of physicians in rural community health centers benefit when physicians use electronic patient registries.

Cecil Pollard, director of the Office of Health Services Research, said his team has been working with community health centers to improve the care delivered to patients with chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and asthma. This effort is funded by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The electronic patient registry is a database that collects information on patients with those chronic conditions. Information gathered includes blood pressure, cholesterol and A1C, a blood test that shows an average blood glucose level over a two- to three-month period. Levels that get too high or two low appear in red. The database also helps identify patients who have gone long periods between visits.

With the information collected by the registry, doctors have a clear 24-month record of their chronic disease patients. “The goal is to make the physician’s job easier,” Pollard said.

According to the study, the diabetic patients of physicians who used the registry saw significant improvements in their blood pressure, cholesterol and A1C. “Those providers were better able to focus on their patients and make better care decisions,” Pollard said.

Currently, 35 sites in West Virginia use the electronic patient registry, which includes 25,000 patients, most of whom have diabetes or heart disease or both

“The registry is becoming more and more user friendly, and the best part is that it’s free for our providers,” Pollard said.  “One of the exciting things is that we’re kind of leading the way for other states.”

WVU is assisting with preparations to launch 26 sites in Oklahoma where registries focus primarily on heart disease. Several other states have at least one site using the registry.

In addition to Pollard, the study was completed by Department of Community Medicine members Kelly A. Bailey; Adam Baus; Trisha Petitte, R.N.; Mary Swim; and Michael Hendryx, Ph.D. It appeared in the Winter 2009 edition of The Journal of Rural Health.

For information on the Office of Health Services Research see www.wvuohsr.org.

For information on the Department of Community Medicine see www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed.



For more information:
Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 04-22-09

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