Does the Encounter Type Matter When Defining Diabetes Complications in Electronic Health Records?

Med Care. 2020 Jun;58 Suppl 6 Suppl 1:S53-S59. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001297.


Background: Electronic health records (EHRs) and claims records are widely used in defining type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) complications across different types of health care encounters.

Objective: This study investigates whether using different EHR encounter types to define diabetes complications may lead to different results when examining associations between diabetes complications and their risk factors in patients with T2DM.

Research design: The study cohort of 64,855 adult patients with T2DM was created from EHR data from the Research Action for Health Network (REACHnet), using the Surveillance Prevention, and Management of Diabetes Mellitus (SUPREME-DM) definitions. Incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke events were identified using International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9/10 codes and grouped by encounter types: (1) inpatient (IP) or emergency department (ED) type, or (2) any health care encounter type. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate associations between diabetes complications (ie, CHD and stroke) and risk factors (ie, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and hemoglobin A1c).

Results: The incidence rates of CHD and stroke in all health care settings were more than twice the incidence rates of CHD and stroke in IP/ED settings. The age-adjusted and multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for incident CHD and stroke across different levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and hemoglobin A1c were similar between IP/ED and all settings.

Conclusion: While there are large variations in incidence rates of CHD and stroke as absolute risks, the associations between both CHD and stroke and their respective risk factors measured by hazard ratios as relative risks are similar, regardless of alternative definitions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / etiology