Electronic Messages Improved Timeliness of Cancer Diagnosis

Hardeep Singh, MD MPH Chief, Health Policy, Quality and Informatics Program, Houston Veterans Affairs Health Services Research Center for Innovations Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine Houston TX 77030
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Hardeep Singh, MD MPH
Chief, Health Policy, Quality and Informatics Program,
Houston Veterans Affairs Health Services Research Center for Innovations
Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston TX 77030

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Singh: Missed or delayed diagnoses are among the most common patient safety concerns in outpatient settings, and measuring and reducing them is a high priority. Our computerized triggers scanned huge amounts of patient data in the electronic health record and flagged individuals at risk for delays in follow-up of cancer-related abnormal clinical findings.  Records of all patients flagged by the computerized trigger algorithm in the intervention group were reviewed to determine the presence of delay and if delay was confirmed, we communicated this information to their clinicians. We found that patients seeing clinicians who were notified of potential delays had more timely diagnostic evaluation for both prostate and colon cancer and more patients in the intervention part of the study had received diagnostic evaluation by the time we completed our final review.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Singh: Electronic trigger-based interventions seem to be effective in reducing time to diagnostic evaluation of colorectal and prostate cancer as well as improving the proportion of patients who receive follow-up.Solutions that harvest and put to use the vast amount of electronic clinical data being collected these days, are essential.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Singh: We need to refine and explore trigger application in other settings to detect and monitor delays and improve timeliness of cancer diagnoses. Similar interventions could also improve timeliness of diagnosis of other serious conditions.


Citation:

Electronic Trigger-Based Intervention to Reduce Delays in Diagnostic Evaluation for Cancer: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial
Daniel R. Murphy, Louis Wu, Eric J. Thomas, Samuel N. Forjuoh, Ashley N.D. Meyer,and Hardeep Singh

JCO JCO.2015.61.1301; published online on August 24, 2015;

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Hardeep Singh, MD MPH (2015). Electronic Messages Improved Timeliness of Cancer Diagnosis 

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