The Boston Globe, October 11, 2011

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found that primary care doctors could improve preventive care for elderly patients by creating reminders in their electronic records system. The researchers developed a tool that prompted physicians to check whether patients over age 65 had assigned a health care proxy, been screened for osteoporosis, or had received vaccines for flu and pneumonia. The study included 54 physicians, about one-third of whom followed their usual practices with their existing records. The others were given the reminder tool; half of those were given help by an administrative assistant who contacted patients with reminders. The study found that electronic reminders alone improved vaccination rates. When paired with the assistant's help, they significantly increased the number of patients who assigned a health care proxy and were screened for bone density. The authors said the study showed a team-based approach to using electronic health records could improve care.

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