As health care costs approach the rim of the financial floodwall, the need to balance the system and manage the risks has become apparent to many stakeholders. The astounding reality of health care costs was addressed in a study by the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion 1 . Researchers found that the medical cost of chronic disease amounted to 75 percent of healthcare spending. One of the major levees that may bring hope to the system is disease management. Demands for quality measures and reporting standards have gradually become major focal points of patient care and disease management. Patient registries have become increasingly popular and are recognized as great tools for managing patient information and reporting aggregate data.
What is a Patient Registry?
As defined by the California Healthcare Foundation 2 , computerized disease registries are "tools that capture and track key patient information to assist [physicians and their] team members in proactively managing patients." Patient registries can be used to track various chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, and heart disease. Physicians identify their patients that fit in a specific chronic disease category, as well as patients that may be at risk. Then, key patient information for those individuals is entered in the patient registry.
Patient registries are different from EMRs because they manage selected information that is related to one or more specific chronic diseases. They do not manage more comprehensive information such as patient history, care, or other problems.
Why are Patient Registries Beneficial?
The data entered for identified patients allows the registry to generate reminders to physicians and staff about patients that require attention, as well as appropriate steps to take during encounters. Care that is appropriate, timely and preventative can help patients avoid complications that are associated with many chronic diseases.
In addition to reminders, patient registries allow physicians and staff to generate reports that provide feedback on how well the physician is doing with the patients, and how well patients are doing in self-managing their care. This type of system can be much easier to maintain than an actual EMR.
For more information on health information technology, contact the Texas Medical Association's HIT helpline at (800) 880-5720 or e-mail HIT .
1. American Medical Association. "Optimizing Outcomes and Pay for Performance: Can Patient Registries Help?" Private Sector Advocacy, October, 2005.
2. California Healthcare Foundation. "Chronic Disease Registries: A Product Review," ihealthReports, NAS Consulting Services, May, 2004.