Deb Friesen, M.D., knows chronic disease up close and personal. The internist is also a devotee of electronic health records, and says that without one her job would be much more difficult than it already is. A member of the Kaiser Permanente's Colorado Medical Group, she says that three-fourths of the patients in her internal medicine practice suffer from at least one chronic condition.

"Diabetes is really common," says Friesen, whose practice is located in Wheat Ridge, Col., a Denver suburb. "I also treat hypertension, obesity and back pain." Left unchecked, such conditions can be debilitating, and patient involvement in their own care is critical, Friesen says.

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