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

December 17, 2007 (Oakland, Calif.) The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has awarded $600,000 to Kaiser Permanentes 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 Permanentes Hawaii region to analyze how following care guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention and management are connected to morbidity, mortality, and costs of heart disease.

This study, one of seven recent studies that leverage Kaiser Permanentes 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 healthcare 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," said Greg Pawlson, M.D., M.P.H., executive vice president of National Committee for Quality Assurance, an organization 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 centers 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 Permanentes, 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 analyzing 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, said Thomas M. Vogt, MD, MPH, senior investigator at Kaiser Permanentes 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."


Contact: Danielle Cass
Kaiser Permanente Division of Research

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