11 integrated health systems form largest private-sector diabetes registry in US

Eleven integrated health systems, with more than 16 million members, have combined de-identified data from their electronic health records to form the largest, most comprehensive private-sector diabetes registry in the nation.

According to a new study published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Preventing Chronic Disease, the SUPREME-DM DataLink provides a unique and powerful resource to conduct population-based research and clinical trials.

"The DataLink will allow us to compare more prevention and with a larger group of patients, which will ultimately prevent more people from getting the disease and improve care for the 25 million Americans who already have it," said Greg Nichols, PhD, lead study author and senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for in Portland, Oregon.

Most other registries are smaller and are associated with a single or hospital system in one region of the country. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a valuable diabetes research database containing a similar number of , but most of those patients are men, and they are sicker than the general population.

"Our database contains an ethnically and geographically diverse population of women and men who mirror the general population with diabetes. We can follow these patients over time and expect that what happens with our patients will also happen with patients throughout the country," said John Steiner, MD, a co-author and senior director with the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Research in Denver, Colorado.

The SUPREME-DM (SUrveillance, PREvention, and ManageEment of ) DataLink includes de-identified health information from nearly 1.1 million people with diabetes in 10 states: California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wisconsin. Participating health plans include six regions of Kaiser Permanente, Geisinger Health System, Group Health Cooperative, HealthPartners, Henry Ford Health System, and Marshfield Clinic.

The DataLink contains test results, prescription records, hospital and clinic visit information, and vital statistics of more than one million people with diabetes. The project also brings together 33 diabetes researchers with diverse backgrounds, expertise, and interests.

The CDC estimates that 18.8 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes, and that 7 million more have the disease but have not been diagnosed. Diabetes, which interferes with the body's ability to produce insulin and process glucose, is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, and death. According to the CDC, it is also the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower limb amputations, and new cases of blindness in this country. The CDC estimates that in 2007, the medical and indirect costs of diabetes totaled $174 billion.

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