Addressing Therapeutic Inertia: Development and Implementation of an Electronic Health Record–Based Diabetes Intensification Tool
Objective. To assess whether an electronic health record (EHR) based diabetes intensification tool can improve the rate of A1C goal attainment among patients with type 2 diabetes and an A1C ≥8%.
Methods. An EHR-based tool was developed and sequentially implemented in a large, integrated health system using a four-phase, stepped-wedge design (single pilot site [phase 1] and then three practice site clusters [phases 2–4]; 3 months/phase), with full implementation during phase 4. A1C outcomes, tool usage, and treatment intensification metrics were compared retrospectively at implementation (IMP) sites versus nonimplementation (non-IMP) sites with sites matched on patient population characteristics using overlap propensity score weighting.
Results. Overall, tool utilization was low among patient encounters at IMP sites (1,122 of 11,549 [9.7%]). During phases 1–3, the proportions of patients achieving the A1C goal (<8%) were not significantly improved between IMP and non-IMP sites at 6 months (range 42.9–46.5%) or 12 months (range 46.5–53.1%). In phase 3, fewer patients at IMP sites versus non-IMP sites achieved the goal at 12 months (46.7 vs. 52.3%, P = 0.02). Implementation was not associated with mean A1C improvement from baseline (range −0.88 to −1.08%, IMP sites vs. non-IMP sites P ≥0.093). Times to intensification were similar between IMP and non-IMP sites.
Conclusion. Utilization of a diabetes intensification tool was low and did not influence rates of A1C goal attainment or time to treatment intensification. The low level of tool adoption is itself an important finding highlighting the problem of therapeutic inertia in clinical practice. Testing additional strategies to better incorporate, increase acceptance of, and improve proficiency with EHR-based intensification tools is warranted.