Health Services Research & Managerial Epidemiology (May 2019)

Electronic Health Records as Valuable Data Sources in the Health Care Quality Improvement Process

  • Katja Wikström,
  • Maija Toivakka,
  • Päivi Rautiainen,
  • Hilkka Tirkkonen,
  • Teppo Repo,
  • Tiina Laatikainen

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 6


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Background: In North Karelia, Finland, the regional electronic health records (EHRs) enable flexible data retrieval and area-level analyses. The aim of this study was to assess the early detection of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in the region and to evaluate the performed activities in order to improve the processes between the years 2012 and 2017. Methods: Patients with T2D were identified from the EHRs using the ICD-10 codes registered during any visit to either primary or specialized care. The prevalence of T2D was calculated for the years 2012, 2015, and 2017 on the municipality level. The number of people found in the EHRs with diabetes was compared with the number found in the national register of medication reimbursement rights. Results: In 2012, the age-adjusted prevalence of T2D in North Karelia varied considerably between municipalities (5.5%-8.6%). These differences indicate variation in the processes of early diagnosis. The findings were discussed in the regional network of health professionals treating patients with T2D, resulting in sharing experiences and best practices. In 2017, the differences had notably diminished, and in most municipalities, the prevalence exceeded 8%. The regional differences in the prevalence and their downward trend were observed both in the EHRs and in the medication reimbursement rights register. Conclusion: Clear differences in the prevalence of T2D were detected between municipalities. After visualizing these differences and providing information for the professionals, the early detection of T2D improved and the regional differences decreased. The EHRs are a valuable data source for knowledge-based management and quality improvement.