Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Benefits from EHRs on the Rise

A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issue brief reports that 51 percent of patients with diabetes treated at local practices using EHRs in Cleveland Ohio received all the care they needed, as opposed to only seven percent in practices with paper records. These outcomes were recorded across all insurance types whether the patients were on Medicare, Medicaid, a commercial plan, or if they were uninsured.

In 2009, President Barack Obama declared his commitment to invest in EHRs with the hope that they would improve healthcare quality. The RWJF issue brief is the first in a series demonstrating how providers in communities are responding positively.

Significant headway is being made by “Better Health Greater Cleveland” (Better Health) in leading RWJF’s “Aligning Forces for Quality” (AF4Q) initiative in the region to lift the overall quality of healthcare in one of the 16 targeted communities. The program is helping to move beyond improving care in one clinic, one hospital, or one disease at a time, and instead the AF4Q initiative takes a community-based approach.

Better Health has been able to promote high-quality and equitable care especially for the growing populations of people with chronic conditions but yet Cleveland situated in Cuyahoga County still struggles with a burgeoning population faced with a fragmented and uncoordinated healthcare system in the region.

Better Health worked with local doctors to help doctors obtain government incentives to help them adopt EHRs through a series of summits and trainings held in 2010. Today, physician practices across the region are able to report on how often patients with diabetes receive tests to check blood sugar levels, have eye exams, and receive important vaccinations. Today, through Better Health’s bi-annual “Community Health Checkup” report, doctors are able to see how often their diabetic patients received all of the recommended care.

Just this last May, RWJF announced that new grants for $1.3 million would be awarded to 16 additional healthcare collaborations through AF4Q. So far, RWJF has committed $300 million for projects in the program and has managed to lift the overall quality of healthcare in communities as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

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