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Electronic System Helps Track Diabetes Care

Patients benefit from shared information with doctors, Canadian study shows

WEDNESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- A personalized electronic health tracking system can improve diabetes patients' care and clinical outcomes, Canadian researchers say.

Their study included 511 diabetes patients and 46 family physicians and nurse-practitioners in Canada. Half the participants used Internet-based tools integrated with five types of electronic health records, an automated telephone reminder system and mailings of color-coded materials. The other participants were assigned to a control group that received usual care.

The researchers found that 62 percent of diabetes patients in the intervention group showed improvement, compared with 42.6 percent of those in the control group. This is one of the first randomized trials to show that this type of electronic tracking system is effective in community-based primary care, they said.

"Despite the technical challenges for both patients and physicians, we have demonstrated that the care of complex chronic disease can be improved with electronic tracking and decision support shared by family physician and patient," wrote Dr. Anne Marie Holbrook of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and colleagues.

The study appears in the July 7 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The findings "provide strong evidence that complex research interventions can and should be implemented in community-based practices," Dr. Richard Grant and Dr. Blackford Middleton of Harvard Medical School wrote in an accompanying commentary.

More information

The American Health Information Management Association has more about personal health records.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, July 6, 2009

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