OAKLAND, Calif., March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- While Kaiser Permanente is widely known for being a leader in health information and the use of electronic health records, a less known fact is how their class-leading clinical technology is fueling transformational health research and clinical practices.
Kaiser Permanente published nearly 1,000 articles in 2012. The body of work demonstrates the tremendous power of Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, the largest private electronic health record system in the world.
Leveraging Kaiser Permanente's paperless patient record database, researchers discovered, among other things, that protection against the whooping cough vaccine wanes during the five years after vaccination and the HPV vaccine is not associated with increased sexual activity in young girls. This research made a difference in clinical care, including updated guidelines and clinical advisory recommendations, as well as sparking conversations between doctors and patients everywhere.
"Kaiser Permanente is unique because we both pay for and deliver care — so we are in the business of keeping people healthy and effectively managing illnesses. A seamless flow of information among all of our clinicians enables us to perform at the highest levels," said Elizabeth McGlynn, PhD, director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Effectiveness and Safety Research. "And our researchers are able to use this clinically detailed information to answer critical questions about what interventions and systems are safest and most effective for which patients. Doing this work in a delivery system also means we can translate those insights back into policy and practice."
Kaiser Permanente operates one of the largest non-university research programs in the United States. Kaiser Permanente clinicians and researchers have approximately 2,000 studies in progress at any given time and they publish 900-1,000 articles annually. Using data from the all-electronic health record to conduct studies that would be more expensive and time consuming in a paper-based system, Kaiser Permanente researchers explore a number of health-related topics, including how vaccines, medications and lifestyle factors affect the whole population.
KP HealthConnect also helps to improve clinical outcomes at Kaiser Permanente through seamless care coordination, providing access to patients' records for all their doctors, pharmacists and specialists. And the system delivers information at the point of care about what treatments and protocols are recommended based on analyses.
"Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect makes our great physicians even better. By analyzing longitudinal data on real clinical encounters, treatments and outcomes, we are identifying what really works," said Scott Young, MD, executive director of the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute. "We then translate that research into practice by creating actionable clinical guidelines that are available in real time in the exam room and at the bedside. We're making the right thing easier to do. The result has been lower mortality rates from heart attacks, strokes, cancer and sepsis than the rest of the country."
Research Influencing Changes in Clinical Guidelines
In 2012, research facilitated by KP HealthConnect supported clinical change, including guideline and advisory changes from Kaiser Permanente and federal agencies. Most importantly, the findings informed conversations between doctors and patients about treatment. For example, researchers used KP HealthConnect to determine that microscopic traces of blood in urine samples do not necessarily indicate cancer, as the medical community previously thought. Due to those findings, Kaiser Permanente Southern California released new practice guidelines, significantly reducing unnecessary exposure to radiation.
Similarly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its safety advisories in 2012 to include the increased risk of blood clots with birth control pills containing a progesterone-mimicking hormone, based on epidemiological data including a Kaiser Permanente study.
Helping Patients with Medication Adherence
In an effort to advance patient care, a number of Kaiser Permanente studies in 2012 used health care records to study trends in medication adherence. Researchers found mail-order pharmacies improve adherence and reduce health care disparities, and automated phone calls are effective tools for encouraging patients to pick up their prescriptions. They also found patients connected to the tools on kp.org are "highly confident" in their ability to manage chronic conditions and have improved health outcomes.
Using Research to Improve Clinical Care
In part because of its commitment to integration and translating research into meaningful clinical change, Kaiser Permanente is a leader in health care quality across hundreds of patient quality measures. Nearly all of Kaiser Permanente's hospitals have the top score of "A" for patient safety from the Leapfrog Group, and the health system leads the nation with the most No. 1 rankings in effectiveness-of-care measures among commercial care plans from the National Committee for Quality Assurance. In addition, Kaiser Permanente's implant registries, which rely on Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect, recently won the 2012 annual John M. Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award, sponsored by The National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission. These registries are models of integration across medical centers in nine states and they represent strong partnerships among health plan administration, hospitals and physician medical groups united to improve the quality of care for patients.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/newscenter.
2012 Translational Medicine Highlights
*Kaiser Permanente researchers found that microscopic hematuria – blood in urine that can't be seen by the naked eye – does not necessarily indicate the presence of cancer, as the medical community previously presumed. Based on the results of the study, Kaiser Permanente Southern California will provide new practice guidelines for the evaluation of hematuria in 2013.
* Kaiser Permanente researchers used electronic health record data to discover protection against whooping cough wanes during the five years after the fifth dose of the vaccine. The study helped spark a national conversation about how the current class of whooping- cough vaccines may need to be tweaked and how parents can best protect their children.
*A Kaiser Permanente study of girls ages 11-12 confirmed the human papillomavirus vaccine is not associated with an increase in pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, or contraceptive counseling. The study was cited as part of the reason at least one school board overturned its ban on HPV vaccine administration at school.
*A study of new users of hormonal birth control found an increased risk of blockage of arteries and blood clots associated with drospirenone-containing birth control pills. Based on epidemiological data, including the Kaiser Permanente study, the Food and Drug Administration updated its safety advisory to include the increased risk of blood clots with birth control pills containing drospirenone and urged women to talk to their health care professionals about their risks for blood clots before deciding which birth control method to use.
*A study of Kaiser Permanente members found patients prescribed a cholesterol-lowering medication were 1.6 times more likely to pick it up from the pharmacy if they received automated phone and mail reminders. Based on the results of the study, Kaiser Permanente Southern California implemented a new regional outreach program in April 2012. The program sends reminders to about 2,200 members each month.
For more information, contact:
Catherine Saunders, CSaunders@golinharris.com, 202-585-2603
SOURCE Kaiser Permanente