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Evaluating the Use of Electronic Health Records for Type 2 Diabetes Surveillance in 2 California Counties, 2010-2014

Electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic laboratory records (ELRs) are increasingly seen as a rich source of data for performing public health surveillance activities and monitoring community health status. Their potential for surveillance of chronic illness, however, may be underused. Our objectives were to (1) evaluate the use of EHRs and ELRs for diabetes surveillance in 2 California counties and (2) examine disparities in diabetes prevalence by geography, income, and race/ethnicity. We obtained data on a clinical diagnosis of diabetes and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test results for adult members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California living in Contra Costa County or Solano County at any time during 2010-2014. We evaluated the validity of using HbA1c test results to determine diabetes prevalence, using clinical diagnoses as a gold standard. We estimated disparities in diabetes prevalence by combining HbA1c test results with US Census data on income, race, and ethnicity. When compared with a clinical diagnosis of diabetes, data on a patient’s 5-year maximum HbA1c value ?6.5% yielded the best combination of sensitivity (87.4%) and specificity (99.2%). The prevalence of 5-year maximum HbA1c ?6.5% decreased with increasing median family income and increased with greater proportions of residents who were either non-Hispanic black or Hispanic. Timely diabetes surveillance data from ELRs can be used to document disparities, target interventions, and evaluate changes in population health. ELR data may be easier to access than a patient’s entire EHR, but outcome metric validation with diabetes diagnoses would need to be ongoing. Future research should validate ELR and EHR data across multiple providers.

Authors: Richardson MJ; Van Den Eeden SK; Roberts E; Ferrara A; Paulukonis S; English P

Public Health Rep. 2017 Jan 01:33354917708988.

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