More than half of American population, are affected by one or more chronic diseases. A patient with a chronic disease translates into one that will probably be visiting hospitals and doctors for several months or even years.
These patients will require the best quality treatments but also strong integration from all providers involved. Primary Care Physicians and Specialists must work together to achieve the best clinical outcomes. This integration has been called Shared Care. The use of Information Technology to potentiate Shared Care can come in handy.
A recent study published by Wim H van Harten, MD, PhD in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, reviewed the state-of-the-art regarding the effectiveness of IT-supported Shared Care interventions on the care of patients with chronic diseases: diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), (congestive) heart failure, cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension, asthma, or cancer.
In this study, they state that Shared Care supported by IT systems makes visits more efficient and improves clinical outcomes. Among other benefits, “Electronic health record use improved PCP visits and reduced rehospitalization; electronic platform use resulted in fewer readmissions and better clinical outcomes; and the use of electronic communication application using text-based information transfer between professionals had a positive effect on the number of PCPs contacting hospitals, PCPs’ satisfaction, and confidence.”
Better and continuous quality of patient care can be achieved. Referrals can be done easily and faster, physicians can take decisions based on reliable records and patient’s histories without worrying about missing information.
Most physicians have not developed tools for care plans given that they take great efforts and expenses. A lot of work still needs to be done before IT systems can be implemented nationwide, however, there is a huge need for robust care plans that can be available at any time since the first patient visit and not only when something has gone wrong.
More details about the study can be found here.