Using old technology to implement modern computer-aided decision support for primary diabetes care.
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BACKGROUND: Implementation rates of interventions known to be beneficial for people with diabetes mellitus are often suboptimal. Computer-aided decision support systems (CDSSs) can improve these rates. The complexity of establishing a fully integrated electronic medical record that provides decision support, however, often prevents their use. OBJECTIVE: To develop a CDSS for diabetes care that can be easily introduced into primary care settings and diabetes clinics. THE SYSTEM: The CDSS uses fax-machine-based optical character recognition software for acquiring patient information. Simple, 1-page paper forms, completed by patients or health practitioners, are faxed to a central location. The information is interpreted and recorded in a database. This initiates a routine that matches the information against a knowledge base so that patient-specific recommendations can be generated. These are formatted and faxed back within 4-5 minutes. IMPLEMENTATION: The system is being introduced into 2 diabetes clinics. We are collecting information on frequency of use of the system, as well as satisfaction with the information provided. CONCLUSION: Computer-aided decision support can be provided in any setting with a fax machine, without the need for integrated electronic medical records or computerized data-collection devices.
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