How Mercy uses EHRs to improve diabetes patient outcomes

St. Louis-based Mercy is using an algorithm to search electronic health records and identify patients with high blood sugars levels and help them navigate a path to improved health. 

Since the algorithm was developed in 2021, the effort has seen half of all patient participants reduce their blood sugar levels by up to 44 percent. An additional 5 percent of participants lost weight, according to the May 25 news release.

"We mine the data, find the opportunities and then work directly with our primary care teams and our patients to make a real difference," Gavin Helton, MD, Mercy's president of primary care said in a statement. "It was clear we had a large group of patients — those with diabetes — who could benefit from intervention. With this approach, we've improved the lives of individual patients and the health of the group overall."

Prior to being identified for the program, some patients struggling to manage their diabetes explained to Mercy's physicians that the repeated "eat healthy and exercise" advice other providers often told them didn't feel helpful.

But after receiving hands-on diabetes guidance from Mercy's nurses, pharmacists and physicians who do everything from providing accountability for the diabetes patients to helping them switch medications to a more affordable one, has helped lead many to these improved outcomes.

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