Kaiser Permanente Study: Starting Treatment Early Doubles Chance of Success for People with Diabetes.

A new study published in the March issue of Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association suggests that the sooner people with diabetes start taking metformin, the longer the drug remains effective.

According to a Kaiser Permanente study, metformin, an inexpensive, generic drug that helps patients prevent dangerously high blood sugar levels, worked nearly twice as long for people who began taking it within three months of their diabetes diagnosis. This is said to be the first study to compare metformin failure rates in a real-world, clinical practice setting. Other studies compared failure rates of metformin only in clinical trials.

According to a news release announcing the study, metformin is recommended as a first-line agent in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but in most patients it eventually stops working, forcing them to take additional medications to control their blood sugar. Each additional drug adds extra costs and the possibility of more side effects including weight gain, so this study is welcome news for newly diagnosed patients, researchers said.

“This is an important finding for the 30 million people world-wide who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every year. The sooner they start taking metformin, the better and longer it seems to work,” said the study’s lead author Jonathan B. Brown, PhD, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. “This study suggests that to gain full benefit from metformin, patients should start taking it as soon as they find out they have diabetes.”

According to the news release, researchers used electronic health records to follow nearly 1,800 people with diabetes in Kaiser Permanente’s health plan in Washington and Oregon for up to five years. Metformin failed at a rate of only 12 percent a year for the patients who began taking it within three months of diagnosis. That compares to a failure rate of 21.4 percent per year for patients who started taking metformin one to two years after diagnosis, and 21.9 percent per year for those who didn’t start taking the drug until three years after they were diagnosed.

“We believe that starting the drug early preserves the body’s own ability to control blood sugar, which in turn prevents the long-term complications of diabetes like heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness,” said study co-author Gregory A. Nichols, PhD, an investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. “The American Diabetes Association recommends that patients start taking metformin and make lifestyle changes as soon as they are diagnosed. This study provides more evidence to back up that recommendation.”

The press release noteThe study was funded by Novo Nordisk, Inc., a company that does not make or sell metformin and has no financial interest in, or connection to, Kaiser Permanente.

Study authors include: Jonathan B. Brown, PhD, MPP, and Gregory A. Nichols, PhD, from the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., and Christopher Conner, PharmD, PhD, from Novo Nordisk, Inc., Seattle.

Click here to read the full study:

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2009/12/29/dc09-1749.full.p df+html

Kaiser Permanente Honored in Fast Company’s Annual Most Innovative Companies Issue.

Kaiser Permanente has been honored in Fast Company’s annual Most Innovative Companies issue as the fifth Most Innovative Health Care Company in the World for its pioneering electronic health record that is the world’s largest civilian electronic health record, and for its health care innovation center that develops the future of health care.

Kaiser Permanente was recognized for its pilot medical data exchange program with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which enables clinicians from VA and Kaiser Permanente to obtain a more comprehensive view of a patient’s health using electronic health record information, including information about health issues, medications, and allergies.

The exchange program centers around Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, which gives the organization’s 14,600 physicians immediate access to a patient’s status and medical history, as well as decision support based on evidence-based practice guidelines and the latest medical research. Kaiser Permanente’s members easily and conveniently can make and reschedule appointments, check lab results, and send e-mails to care providers via My Health Manager, the online personal health record that connects directly with KP HealthConnect.

Fast Company also recognized Kaiser Permanente for its Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center, the only setting of its kind that brings together technology, architecture, nurses, doctors and patients with human-centered design thinking and low-fidelity prototyping and design to brainstorm and test tools and programs for patient-centered care in a mock hospital, clinic, office or home environment.

Kaiser Permanente used the Garfield Center to develop the Digital Operating Room of the Future and an award-winning medication error reduction program. It’s also used to test disruptive technologies such as telemedicine, surface computing, robots, facial recognition, remote monitoring, video game consoles and a handheld computer tablet similar to the Apple iPad that Kaiser Permanente nurses and physicians have piloted in hospitals the last two years.

“This recognition is emblematic of a culture and spirit at Kaiser Permanente that enables the transformation of health care,” said Kaiser Permanente Chief Information Officer Philip Fasano, who was recently recognized by Computerworld as one of the top 100 IT Leaders for 2010. “Our electronic health record and Garfield Health Care Innovation Center are exciting examples of the innovation fostered throughout our organization and are the starting point in our journey to deliver real-time, personalized health care.”

Other major brands honored on the Fast Company magazine’s list include Cisco, Disney, and GE along with such rising newcomers as Spotify, Gilt Groupe, HTC, and the Indian Premier League.

To create this year’s Most Innovative Companies issue, Fast Company’s editorial team analyzed information on thousands of businesses across the globe. The result is a package unlike that of any other business media. It’s not just about revenue growth and profit margins; it’s about identifying creative models and progressive cultures — to define the many forms of innovation that exist across the business landscape.

Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies issue (March 2010) is on newsstands now, and is online at www.fastcompany.com/MIC.