Three Tech-Free Ways to Provide Better Preventive Care

Friday, October 15th, 2010
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

Three of the four ways that doctors can provide better preventive care to healthy patients identified in a new Kaiser Permanente study can be done without an electronic medical record (EMR). The strategies are linked to the use of Kaiser Permanente’s Panel Support Tool (PST) — a Web-based tool that extracts data from an EMR.

According to study findings published online in Population Health Management, the four best ways to improve care using PST are the following:

  • Sending standardized letters or secure e-mail messages around the time of members’ birthdays that identify all needed care;
  • Having medical assistants or nurses call patients to schedule screening tests;
  • Having pharmacists review patients’ records for needed care when refilling medications.
  • Querying the system for care gaps for the entire panel every two to four weeks;

With a little advance planning and a rudimentary patient registry — on paper or in an Excel® spreadsheet — solo and small practices without EMRs could implement the first three processes.

The study involved 207 primary care teams that were using the PST to manage the care of 263,509 adult patients, some whom were relatively healthy and others who have chronic diseases. The study looked at 13 different care recommendations and found that after 20 months, the PST improved performance from 72.9 percent to an average of 80 percent. Researchers found that during the first year of tool use, performance in delivering the care recommendations improved to a statistically significant degree every four months.

The study noted that while the PST is a great tool to help physicians take better care of their patients, it does not override shared decision-making between doctor and patient.

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