In a recent study published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), researchers were able to identify strategies to use electronic health records (EHRs), thus improving care for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Electronic health records have the potential to improve the care of patients with chronic medical conditions. CKD provides a unique opportunity to show this potential: the disease is common in the United States, there is significant room to improve CKD detection and management, its related conditions are defined primarily by objective laboratory data, CKD care requires collaboration by a diverse team of health care professionals, and improved access to CKD-related data would enable identification of a group of patients at high risk for multiple adverse outcomes.
In the study, a research team led by Paul Drawz, MD, MHS, MS (University of Minnesota), Uptal Patel, MD (Duke University School of Medicine), have identified strategies for the use of EHRs as a tool to improve care for CKD patients, outlining specific design procedures and goals for the incorporation of CKD-related information into EHRs.
The researchers advocate for documenting CKD-related data (such as laboratory results and information related to risk factors and medical complications) into EHRs using standard code systems and units. Moreover, the authors clarified that in the case of diastolic and systolic blood pressure, this should be kept in separate fields, rather than in a single field.
The researchers also recommend the storage of data related to CKD in formats that can be simply accessed by clinicians and patients. EHRs could also be used to develop CKD registries in a way that clinicians can easily manage patients’ panels and manage care with other clinical specialties.
CKD has several features that make it a perfect model to identify and evaluate methods for a more effective design, while the use of EHRs should allow clinicians to improve chronic disease patients’ care.
“CKD is common and its care is suboptimal, allowing significant room to show improvement as EHRs are optimized, and because CKD is defined by objective data, the disease is an ideal example of a condition that can be easily identified by information commonly found in EHRs,” said in a news release Dr. Patel, who is chair of the working group. “CKD care also requires collaboration between diverse professionals across numerous healthcare settings, which could be facilitated by EHRs. Furthermore, CKD often heralds increased risk for hospitalizations, cardiovascular events, and all-cause mortality, so EHR-based improvements in CKD management may in turn improve care for these related conditions.”