News Feature | November 13, 2014

EHR Data Identifies Undiagnosed Diabetes Cases

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Using data from clinic electronic health records, researchers identified over 63,000 undiagnosed cases of diabetes.

Researchers in the United Kingdom and the United States recently analyzed electronic health records (EHRs) from over 9,000 clinics covering 11.5 million patients. Using an algorithm and analyzing biochemical data, they identified more than 63,000 patients with undiagnosed diabetes.

“Electronic diabetes registers promote structured care and enable identification of undiagnosed diabetes, but they require consistent coding of the diagnosis in electronic medical records,” explain researchers in CMAJ Open. “We investigated the potential of electronic medical records to identify undiagnosed diabetes and to support diabetes management in a large primary care population in the United States.”

According to iHealth Beat, of the 11.5 million patients whose records were analyzed, researchers identified 1,174,018 who had confirmed or undiagnosed diabetes. Of those, 63,620 (5.4 percent) were found to have undiagnosed diabetes. This accounted for 12 to 15.9 percent of the entire diabetes population in certain areas of the U.S.

“We were able to identify a substantial number of patients with uncoded diabetes and probable undiagnosed diabetes using simple algorithms applied to the primary care electronic records,” said researchers. “Electronic coding of the diagnosis was associated with improved quality of care. Electronic diabetes registers are underused in U.S. primary care and provide opportunities to facilitate the systematic, structured approach that is established in England.”

The researchers concluded, “Wherever electronic diabetes registries are used to support the provision of care, and where blood glucose levels, [glycated hemoglobin] and quality of care data are recorded in the same system, it should be possible to identify readily (and at low cost) individuals at risk of their diabetes going undetected and those receiving suboptimal care.”