Context: The primary prevention of coronary artery disease in patients with diabetes could have a large impact on health care costs and outcomes. Guidelines for improving diabetic health indices are common, but significant challenges exist in implementing them.
General question: How does integrating an evidence-based guideline into an electronic medical record affect patient care?
Specific research challenge: How can we implement the new guideline-enhanced medical record in a controlled manner and measure its impact on physician satisfaction, diabetes process measures, and the risk for cardiovascular disease?
Proposed approach: All patients in the University of Washington system have an electronic Web-based medical record. Patients with diabetes will be randomly assigned to a guideline-enhanced or standard electronic medical record. The electronic medical record allows measurement of most clinical process measures and outcomes. Physician satisfaction will be measured by survey.
Potential difficulties: Contamination may occur when guideline recommendations are applied to control patients as physicians gain experience with the guideline-enhanced record.