Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funds Kaiser Permanente study of electronic records for heart disease

Oakland 17 December 2007The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has awarded $600.000 to Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research for a study that uses electronic medical records to examine heart disease prevention and management in 175.000 adults to find ways to improve the quality of cardiovascular care nationwide. The two-year study, which will begin to yield findings next summer, will review medical records of 175.000 men and women at Kaiser Permanente's Hawaii region to analyse how following care guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention and management are connected to morbidity, mortality, and costs of heart disease.

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This study, one of seven recent studies that leverage Kaiser Permanente's robust electronic medical records system, will look at care patterns for heart disease prevention methods such as smoking cessation, weight management, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes management, and use of beta blockers and their related outcomes and costs. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death and disability in the United States and one of the fastest rising causes of death and disability in the world.

The methodology of using KP HealthConnect to improve health care outcomes is being examined as a model by a growing number of researchers nationwide, several health systems and the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

"This very critical project will add substantially to our understanding of how to more effectively use electronic medical records to expand our ability to measure and improve quality of care", stated Greg Pawlson, M.D., M.P.H., executive vice president of National Committee for Quality Assurance, an organisation that has played a leading role in developing measures and reporting on physician and health plan performance. "In addition, the area of prevention and management of cardiovascular disease presents one of the greatest opportunities in health care for improving health and reducing the burden of chronic cardiovascular diseases like congestive heart failure and ischemic vascular disease."

This study is part of a growing trend, led by Kaiser Permanente, to use electronic medical records to improve health care outcomes. Other current and recent studies that use electronic medical records include efforts to evaluate the quality of care of cancer prevention, HIV treatment, diabetes management, osteoporosis care, and costs for services delivered in excess of guidelines recommendations. KP HealthConnect is the electronic medical records system used throughout Kaiser Permanente, which has nearly 9 million health plan members and 448 medical centres and medical offices in Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Ohio, Georgia, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii.

"With an integrated care system like Kaiser Permanente's, researchers can tap vast quantities of electronic data with KP HealthConnect to improve quality of care, reduce death rates and lower costs. Electronic medical records enable us to examine data of an entire population in ways not previously possible by analysing the total medical care experience to determine what works and what does not, find patterns of care that are more effective, and define the cost-effectiveness of various approaches to care", stated Thomas M. Vogt, MD, MPH, senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Honolulu and the principal investigator for the study. "This is the first study to our knowledge that connects the degree to which each patient and each clinical practice adhere to evidence-based care guidelines to the risk of disease events that those guidelines are designed to prevent."

Other researchers for this study include Andrew E. Williams, PhD; Adrianne Feldstein, MD; and MaryAnn McBurnie, PhD, at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Honolulu and Portland, Oregon, and Mikel Aickin, PhD, at the University of Arizona. Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research, founded in 1964, is a non-profit research institution dedicated to advancing knowledge to improve health. It has facilities in Portland, Oregon; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Kaiser Permanente is a United States integrated health plan. Founded in 1945, it is a not-for-profit group practice prepayment programme headquartered in Oakland, California. Kaiser Permanente serves the health care needs of more than 8,7 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Today, it encompasses the not-for-profit Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and their subsidiaries, and the for-profit Permanente Medical Groups. Nationwide, Kaiser Permanente includes approximately 156.000 technical, administrative and clerical employees and caregivers, and more than 13.000 physicians representing all specialities.


Leslie Versweyveld

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