Patients Prefer Doctors Who Face Them Rather Than Computer Screen

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Ali Haider, MBBS MD

Assistant Professor, Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine
Division of Cancer Medicine
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, TX 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Patients with chronic and serious illnesses such as cancer often experience high physical and psychosocial symptoms. Recent studies have reported association of physicians’ examination room computer use with less face to face interactions and eye contact. It’s important for the clinicians to look for certain physical cues to better understand the well being of their patients. Therefore we conducted this randomized clinical trial to understand patients perception of physicians compassion, communication skills and professionalism with and without the use of examination room computer.

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Billing Data May Not Accurately Represent In-Hospital Cardiac Arrests

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rohan Khera MD Division of Cardiology University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Texas 

Dr. Khera

Rohan Khera MD
Division of Cardiology
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Texas 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: An increasing number of studies have used administrative claims (or billing) data to study in-hospital cardiac arrest with the goal of understanding differences in incidence and outcomes at hospitals that are not part of quality improvement initiatives like the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Resuscitation (AHA’s GWTG-Resuscitation). These studies have important implications for health policies and determining targets for interventions for improving the care of patients with this cardiac arrest, where only in 1 in 5 patient survive the hospitalization.

Therefore, in our study, we evaluated the validity of such an approach. We used data from 56,678 patients in AHA’s GWTG-Resuscitation with a confirmed in-hospital cardiac arrest, which were linked to Medicare claims data. We found:

(1)  While most prior studies have used a diagnosis or procedure code alone to identify cases of in-hospital cardiac arrest, we found that the majority of confirmed cases in a national registry (AHA’s GWTG-Resuscitation) would not be captured using either administrative data strategy.

(2)  Survival rates using administrative data to identify cases from the same reference population varied markedly and were 52% higher (28.4% vs. 18.7%) when using diagnosis codes alone to identify in-hospital cardiac arrest.

(3)  There was large hospital variation in documenting diagnosis or procedure codes for patients with in-hospital cardiac arrest, which would have consequences for using administrative data to examine hospital-level variation in cardiac arrest incidence or survival, or conducting single-center studies to validate this administrative approach.

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What Do Patients Value About Reading Their Electronic Medical Record Notes?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Macda Gerard
M.D. Candidate | Class of 2021
Wayne State University School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: As electronic health records proliferate, patients are increasingly asking for their health information but little is known about how patients use that information or whether they encounter errors in their records. This comes at a time when we’re learning that understanding the patient and family experience, especially what is most valued in exchanges between doctors and patients is important and has many benefits. To learn more, we developed a formal mechanism for patients to provide feedback on what they like about accessing the information in their health records and to inform their clinical team about things like inaccuracies and perceived errors. So that’s the gap we tried to fill.

The patient feedback tool is linked to the visit note in the electronic health record (EHR), and it’s part of a quality improvement initiative aimed at improving safety and learning what motivates patients to engage with their health information on the patient portal. Over the 12-month pilot period, 260 patients and care partners provided feedback using the OpenNotes patient feedback tool. Nearly all respondents found the tool to be valuable and about 70 percent provided additional information regarding what they liked about their notes and the feedback process.

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Clinicians Multitask on Electronic Health Records 30% of Visit Time with Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Neda Ratanawongsa, MD, MPH Associate Chief Health Informatics Officer for Ambulatory Services, San Francisco Health Network Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations Physician, Richard H. Fine People's Clinic (RHPC) Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital San Francisco, CA 94110 

Dr. Ratanawongsa

Neda Ratanawongsa, MD, MPH
Associate Chief Health Informatics Officer for Ambulatory Services, San Francisco Health Network
Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine
UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations
Physician, Richard H. Fine People’s Clinic (RHPC)
Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital
San Francisco, CA 94110

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: U.S. federal incentives allowed many safety net healthcare systems to afford fully functional electronic health record systems (EHRs). Although EHRs can help clinicians provide care to vulnerable populations, clinicians may struggle with managing the EHR workload, particularly in resource-limited settings. In addition, clinicians’ use of EHRs during clinic visits may affect how they communicate with patients.

There are two forms of EHR use during clinic visits.  Clinicians can multitask, for example, by ordering laboratory tests while chatting with a patient about baseball.  However, like distracted driving, using EHRs while talking with increases risks – in this case, the risk of errors in patient-provider communication or in the EHR task. Alternatively, clinicians can use EHRs in complete silence, which may be appropriate for high-risk tasks like prescribing insulin. However, silence during visits has been associated with lower patient satisfaction and less patient-centered communication.

So we studied how primary and specialty care clinicians used EHRs during visits with English- and Spanish-speaking patients in a safety net system with an EHR certified for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services meaningful use incentive programs. We found that multitasking EHR use was more common than silent EHR use (median of 30.5% vs. 4.6% of visit time). Focused patient-clinician talk comprised one-third of visit time.

We also examined the transitions into and out of silent EHR use. Sometimes clinicians explicitly stated a need to focus on the EHR, but at times, clinicians drifted into silence without warning. Patients played a role in breaking silent EHR use, either by introducing small talk or by bringing up their health concerns.

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EHRs Can Facilitate Rapid Detection and Treatment of Sepsis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Faheem Guirgis MD  Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine Division of Research UF Health Jacksonville

Dr. Guirgis

Faheem Guirgis MD
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Department of Emergency Medicine
Division of Research
UF Health Jacksonville

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Sepsis is quite prevalent among hospitals and the incidence is increasing. It is a life-threatening disease that can lead to poor outcomes if patients are not recognized and treated promptly. We recognized that our institution needed a strategic approach to the problem of sepsis, therefore the Sepsis Committee was created with the goal of creating a comprehensive sepsis program.

We developed a system for sepsis recognition and rapid care delivery that would work in any area of the hospital. We found that we reduced overall mortality from sepsis, the number of patients requiring mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit length and overall hospital length of stay, and the charges to the patient by approximately $7000 per patient.

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Large Teaching Hospitals Face Greater Risk of Data Breaches

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ge Bai, PhD, CPA Assistant Professor The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Washington, DC 20036

Dr. Ge Bai

Ge Bai, PhD, CPA
Assistant Professor
The Johns Hopkins Carey Business School
Washington, DC 20036


MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We examined the hospital data breaches between 2009 and 2016 and found that larger hospitals and hospitals that have a major teaching mission have a higher risk of data breaches.

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Computerized Clinical Decision Support Systems Can Reduce Rate of Venous Thromboembolism

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Zachary Borabm, Research fellow

Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery
NYU Langone Medical Center

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Recent studies have shown that health care providers perform poorly in risk stratifying their patients for venous thromboembolism (VTE) which leads to inadequate VTE prophylaxis delivery, especially in surgical patients. Computerized Clinical Decision Support Systems (CCDSSs) are programs integrated into an electronic health record that have the power to aid health care providers. Using a meta-analysis study technique we were able to pool data from 11 studies, including 156,366 patients that either had CCDSSs intervention or routine care without CCDSSs.

Our main outcome measures were the rate of prophylaxis for VTE and the rate of actual VTE events. We found that CCDSSs increased the rate of VTE prophylaxis (odds ratio 2.35, p<0.001) and decreased the risk of VTE events (risk ratio 0.78, p<0.001).

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Loopback Analytics Uses Predictive Analytics To Close The Loop In Health Care Data

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Neil Smiley CEO of Loopback Analytics

Neil Smiley

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Neil Smiley
CEO of Loopback Analytics

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for Loopback Analytics? What are the problems Loopback Analytics is attempting to mitigate?

Response: Loopback Analytics (Loopback) is a Software-as-a-Service company that provides event-driven population health management. Founded in 2009, Loopback integrates and manages diverse data sources to support predictive analytics and intervention solutions to address health reform reimbursement challenges with the goal of achieving the Triple Aim – better care, better health and lower costs.

Loopback enabled intervention solutions address key challenges associated with value-based care, such as reducing avoidable hospitalizations, high emergency department utilization, medication adherence and optimization of post-acute care networks.

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Drop in Adverse Drug Events Linked to Meaningful Use of Electronic Records

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michael Furukawa, Ph.D.

Senior Economist
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Despite some progress, patient safety remains a serious concern in U.S. health care delivery, particularly in acute care hospitals. In part to support safety improvement, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act promoted widespread adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology. To meet Meaningful Use (MU) requirements in the law, hospitals are required to adopt specific capabilities, such as computerized physician order entry, which are expected to reduce errors and promote safer care.

We found that, after the HITECH Act was made law, the occurrence of in-hospital adverse drug events (ADEs) declined significantly from 2010 to 2013, a decline of 19%. Hospital adoption of medication-related MU capabilities was associated with 11% lower odds of ADEs occurring, but the effects did not vary by the number of years of experience with these capabilities. Interoperability capability was associated with 19% lower odds of adverse drug events occurring. Greater exposure to MU capabilities explained about one-fifth of the observed reduction in ADEs.

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Cedars-Sinai Study Will Address How Doctors Communicate With Patients About Chronic Pain

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michelle S. Keller, MPH, PhD Candidate

Health Policy and Management
Cedars-Sinai
Los Angeles CA 90048

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this new funding award?

Response: Research shows that treating and managing chronic pain is tough, and it can be hard for patients and their physicians to be on the same page. Chronic pain touches so many facets of people’s lives—relationships, mental health, sleep, work—that treating it in a 15-minute visit can lead to a lot of frustration and disappointment.

Our hope is that by arming patients and clinicians with evidence-based tools, we can help foster a better dialogue about what is ultimately important to patients, how to achieve fully functional lives while managing chronic pain. We’re testing two different types of communication tools: electronic health record alerts pointing physicians to guidelines when they write opioid prescriptions and patient portal-based tools that can help patients prepare for visits and become active, engaged partners in their care.

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Is Trust in Mental Health Clinicians Affected Among Patients Who Access Clinical Notes Online?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Steven K. Dobscha, M.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry, OHSU Director, VAPORHCS Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care Oregon Health & Science University

Dr. Dobscha

Steven K. Dobscha, M.D.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, OHSU
Director, VAPORHCS Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care
Oregon Health & Science University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: Several health care systems across the United States now offer patients online access to all of their clinical notes (sometimes referred to as progress notes) through electronic health record portals; this type of access has been referred to as OpenNotes (see www.opennotes.org for more information on the national OpenNotes initiative). Veterans have been able to use OpenNotes in the Veterans Health Care (VHA) system since 2013. However, some individuals have expressed concern that online access to clinical notes related to mental health could cause some patient harms.

We are conducting a VA-funded research project with several objectives:
1) to examine benefits and unintended negative consequences of OpenNotes use as perceived by veterans receiving VHA mental health care and by VHA mental health clinicians, and
2) to develop and evaluate brief web-based courses designed to help veterans and clinicians use OpenNotes in ways that optimize Veteran-clinician collaboration and minimize unintended consequences.

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Medical Residents Spend More Time Working on Electronic Medical Records than With Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dresse Nathalie Wenger

Cheffe de clinique
FMH médecine interne
Département de Médecine Interne
CHUV – Lausanne 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The structure of a residents’ working day dramatically changed during the last decades (limitation of working hours per week, wide implementation of electronic medical records (EMR), and growing volume of clinical data and administrative tasks), especially in internal medicine with increasing complexity of patients. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) have some positive effects but negative effects have been also described ie more time writing notes, more administrative works, and less time for communication between physicians and patients.

Few time motion studies have been published about the resident’s working day in Internal Medicine: the impact of the computer, and what really do the residents do during their work, especially the time spent with the patient versus the computer, as now the EMRs are widely implemented. Previous studies have been mostly performed in the US, so we decided to conduct one observational and objective study in Europe.

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Many CT Scans Can Be Avoided During ER Evaluation of Head Trauma

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Adam L. Sharp MD MS Research Scientist/Emergency Physician Kaiser Permanente Southern California Kaiser Permanente Research Department of Research & Evaluation Pasadena, CA 91101

Dr. Adam Sharp

Adam L. Sharp MD MS
Research Scientist/Emergency Physician
Kaiser Permanente Southern California
Kaiser Permanente Research
Department of Research & Evaluation
Pasadena, CA 91101

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Millions of head computed tomography (CT) scans are ordered annually in U.S. emergency Departments (EDs), but the extent of avoidable imaging is poorly defined. Ensuring appropriate use is important to ensure patient outcomes and limited resources are optimized. A large number of stake holders have highlighted the need to reduce “unnecessary” CT scanning as part of their recommendations for the Choosing Wisely campaign. However, despite calls for improved stewardship, the extent of avoidable CT use among adults with minor trauma in community EDs is not known.

The Canadian CT Head Rule (CCHR) is perhaps the most studied of many validated decision instruments designed to assist providers in evaluating patients with minor head trauma. This study aims to describe the scope of overuse of CT imaging by ED providers in cases where application of the CCHR could have avoided imaging.

Secondarily, we sought to describe the extent to which avoidable CTs, if averted, would have resulted in “missed” intracranial hemorrhages requiring a neurosurgical intervention.

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Thyroid Care Collaborative Improves Adoption of Thyroid Cancer Clinical Guidelines

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ilya Likhterov, MD Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr. Ilya Likhterov

Ilya Likhterov, MD
Assistant Professor, Otolaryngology
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As our understanding of thyroid cancer improves, the way these patients are diagnosed and treated is changing. It is difficult for clinicians to incorporate every individual scientific study into their practice. These studies are numerous and the results can be conflicting.

To address this difficulty, organizations such as the American Thyroid Association (ATA) create summary recommendations that account for the latest research and translate it into a format that is easily usable for physicians. Such clinical practice guidelines are available not just for thyroid cancer care, but in many other fields. The difficulty however, is how to ensure that clinicians have access to the guidelines and incorporate the recommendations into their practice.

There are a number of barriers to actually using the guidelines in practice, and we attempt to identify strategies on how to overcome these.

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Familial Hypercholesterolemia Diagnosed Through EHR and Genetics Data

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Michael F. Murray MD Geisinger Health System Danville, PA 17822

Dr. Michael Murray

Michael F. Murray MD
Geisinger Health System
Danville, PA 17822

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The DiscovEHR cohort was formed as a result of a research collaboration between Geisinger Health System and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. There are over 50,000 patient participants in the cohort who have volunteered to have their de-identified genomic sequence data linked to their de-identified EHR data for research purposes. We report in this paper findings around the identification of 229 individuals (1:256) with pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants in one of the three genes (LDLR, APOB, PCSK9) associated with Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH). The study found that these individuals are unlikely to carry a diagnosis of FH and are at risk for early coronary artery disease.

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Patients Prefer Online Portal To Receive Skin Biopsy Results

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

sophia-akhiyatSophia Akhiyat
M.D. Candidate, Class of 2017
The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
METEOR Fellowship

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Our study was inspired by one of Choudhry et al,1 in which patients’ preferences for skin biopsy result disclosure was surveyed at melanoma clinics affiliated with several academic institutions. We sought to broaden participant inclusion criteria by evaluating patients’ preferences at a general dermatology clinic at an academic center.

Our findings support that the highest ranked patient-preferred method for receiving skin biopsy results was through an online portal. Patients also reported that the most important factors when selecting a modality for communication were the amount of information given and time available to discuss results. We also observed a relationship between a younger patient age range and online portal experience as well as a preference for biopsy notification via online portal.

1Choudhry A, Hong J, Chong K, et al. Patients’ Preferences for Biopsy Result Notification in an Era of Electronic Messaging Methods. JAMA Dermatol. 2015;151(5):513-521.

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Default Settings in Electronic Records Can Facilitate Over-Prescribing

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jashvant Poeran MD PhD Assistant Professor Dept. of Population Health Science & Policy Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai New York, NY

Dr. Jashvant Poeran

Jashvant Poeran MD PhD
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Population Health Science & Policy
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
New York, NY

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Falls are an important patient safety issue among elderly patients and may lead to extended hospitalization and patient harm. Particularly important in elderly patients are high risk drugs such as sleep medications which are known to increase fall risk and should be dosed lower in elderly patients.

In this study we looked at patients aged 65 years or older who fell during hospitalization. We found that in 62%, patients had been given at least one high risk medication that was linked to fall risk, within 24 hours before their fall. Interestingly, we found that also a substantial proportion of these medications were given at doses higher than generally recommended for elderly patients.

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Electronic Records Can Provide Real World Evidence On Treatments of Type 2 Diabetes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lee Kallenbach, PhD, MPH Principal Investigator Practice Fusion

Dr. Lee Kallenbach

Lee Kallenbach, PhD, MPH
Principal Investigator
Practice Fusion

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Clinical inertia, or the tendency for patients and providers to continue using the same course of treatment even when clinical markers may suggest that treatment intensification is necessary, is an ongoing factor that can contribute to inadequate diabetes care. This is especially true when the treatment intensification may involve a switch from an oral medication to an injectable medication. It is less challenging for a patient to take a pill than it is to give themselves a shot.

Even with all the new diabetes treatments available, clinical inertia is still common among patients with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes (T2D). To further understand the extent of clinical inertia among patients with T2D, the study assessed treatment intensification patterns and associated demographic and clinical characteristics for patients with uncontrolled T2D who were already taking two or more oral anti-diabetes medications.

The study consisted of a retrospective observational analysis leveraging data from Practice Fusion’s de-identified clinical database, which includes more than 38 million records, representing 6.7 percent of all practices across the United States.1 Using a cohort of 25,365 de-identified records, we studied the care given by providers in independent practices to patients in need of intensifying their antidiabetic therapy for managing T2D. To our knowledge, this is one of the largest real world evidence (RWE) studies of T2D that has leveraged a de-identified clinical database from an electronic health record (EHR) platform.

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EHRs Can Help Identify Patients Who May Benefit From HIV PrEP Medications

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Douglas Krakower, MD Infectious Disease Division Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston, MA,

Dr. Douglas Krakower

Douglas Krakower, MD
Infectious Disease Division
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, MA,

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are 45,000 new HIV infections in the US annually, so effective HIV prevention strategies are needed. HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), whereby a person who is HIV-uninfected uses an HIV treatment medication on a daily basis to protect themselves from becoming infected with HIV, is over 90% effective when taken with high adherence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 1.2 million Americans who are likely to benefit from using PrEP. However, only 80,000 persons have been prescribed PrEP. One of the barriers to implementing PrEP is that clinicians face challenges with identifying persons who are most likely to benefit from PrEP, given infrequent sexual health history assessments during routine clinical care. We thus sought to develop an automated algorithm that uses structured data from electronic health records (EHRs) to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from using PrEP. Our methods included extracting potentially relevant EHR data for patients with incident HIV and without HIV from nearly a decade of EHR data from a large ambulatory practice in Massachusetts. We then used machine learning algorithms to predict HIV infection in those with incident HIV and those without HIV. We found that some algorithms could offer clinically useful predictive power to identify persons who were more likely to become infected with HIV as compared to controls. When we applied these algorithms to the general population and identified a subset of about 1% of the population with risk scores above an inflection point in the total distribution of risk scores; these persons may be appropriate for HIV testing and/or discussions about PrEP.

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Machine Learning and Free-Text Analysis of Notes Improves Patient Identification

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Saul Blecker, MD, MHS Department of Population Health New York University Langone School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016

Dr. Saul Blecker,

Saul Blecker, MD, MHS
Department of Population Health
New York University Langone School of Medicine,
New York, NY 10016

Saul.Blecker@nyumc.org

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The identification of conditions or diseases in the electronic health record (EHR) is critical in clinical practice, for quality improvement, and for clinical interventions. Today, a disease such as heart failure is typically identified in real-time using a “problem list”, i.e., a list of conditions for each patient that is maintained by his or her providers, or using simple rules drawn from structured data. In this study, we examined the comparative benefit of using more sophisticated approaches for identifying hospitalized patients with heart failure.

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Targeted Case Finding Through EHR Starts More High Risk Patients On Treatment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Tom Marshall, PhD, MRCGP, FFPH Professor of public health and primary care Institute of Applied Health Research University of Birmingham Edgbaston, Birmingham

Prof. Tom Marshall

Tom Marshall, PhD, MRCGP, FFPH
Professor of public health and primary care
Institute of Applied Health Research
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Shortly before the Health Checks programme began, a programme of targeted case finding was set up in Sandwell in the West Midlands. In general practices in the area a programme nurse searched electronic medical records to identify untreated patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The nurse then invited high risk patients for assessment in the practice and those who needed treatment were referred to their GP for further action.

This was implemented in stages across 26 general practices, allowing it to be evaluated as a stepped wedge randomised controlled trial. The programme was successful, resulting in a 15.5% increase in the number of untreated high risk patients started on either antihypertensives or statins.

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Web-Based Handoff Tool Markedly Reduced Medical Errors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stephanie Mueller, MD MPH FHM Division of General Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA 02120

Dr. Stephanie Mueller

Stephanie Mueller, MD MPH FHM
Division of General Medicine
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Boston, MA 02120

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: Failures in communication among healthcare personnel are known threats to patient safety, and occur all too commonly during times of care transition, such as when patient care responsibility is transferred from one provider to another (i.e., handoff). Such failures in communication put patients at risk for adverse outcomes.

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Electronic Records Overwhelm Primary Care Physicians With Messages

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Daniel R. Murphy MD MBA Assistant Professor - Interim Director of GIM at Baylor Clinic Department of Medicine Health Svc Research & General Internal Medicine Baylor College of Medicine Houston, TX, US

Dr. Daniel Murphy

Daniel R. Murphy MD MBA
Assistant Professor – Interim Director of GIM at Baylor Clinic
Department of Medicine
Health Svc Research & General Internal Medicine
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Murphy: Electronic health records (EHRs) have enabled a large number of messages to be transmitted to physicians each day, including new types of messages that were not present in the pre-EHR era. Lack of support and policies to assist physicians with this workload creates opportunities for important information, such as abnormal tests results, to be missed among the vast amount of other information. We found that primary care physicians (PCPs) at three clinics using commercial EHRs received an average of 77 messages per day, of which only about 20% were test results. Specialists received an average of 29 total messages per day. Extrapolating time needed to process these messages from prior work suggests that PCPs would require an average of 67 minutes per day to process these messages.

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Online Health Portals Linked To Better Adherence To Preventive Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Shayna L. Henry, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Department of Research & Evaluation Kaiser Permanente Southern California

Dr. Shayna Henry

Shayna L. Henry, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Research & Evaluation
Kaiser Permanente Southern California

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

Dr. Henry: In this study, we analyzed the electronic health records of 838,638 Kaiser Permanente members in Southern California. We decided to conduct this study because Kaiser Permanente always strives to advance standards of excellence for care, and even with all the outreach resources available to health care providers and staff, gaps in preventive care still arise. It can be hard to get patients engaged in managing their preventive care, because there are so many tasks for them to keep track of – many of which don’t happen on a very regular basis. Online patient portals have been very useful at helping patients get more engaged in their care, but patients still have to make the first move, and put all the pieces together. Our tool, the Online Personal Action Plan (oPAP), puts our members’ health status and preventive and chronic care tasks in a single dashboard, and alerts them via email to their upcoming care needs, prompting them to log in, view their upcoming health care tasks such as annual vaccinations, tests and blood draws for chronic conditions, and routine cancer screenings, and make the necessary medical appointments to close those gaps in care. We wanted to better understand if having access to the oPAP tools was associated with a higher likelihood of taking care of those outstanding health care tasks in a timely manner.

We found that members who used oPAP were more likely to get a mammogram, Pap smear, receive colorectal cancer screenings, and more likely to complete HbA1c testing for diabetes within 90 days of their coming due compared to members who were not registered on our patient portal.   Continue reading

Fully Integrated Electronic Records Linked to Fewer Inpatient Adverse Effects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mr. Noel Eldridge Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Mr. Noel Eldridge

Mr. Noel Eldridge
Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

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

Mr. Eldridge: We used existing data on adverse events from the Medicare Patient Safety Monitoring System, which AHRQ, CMS, and Qualidigm have been analyzing for years, and focused on the question as to whether rates of the adverse event measures were higher or lower in patients whose charts indicated that they had been treated with a full electronic health record (EHR) or a partial EHR during their inpatient stay.

The main finding was that the adverse event rates were lower in the full EHR patients. We saw three different diagnosis groups of patients (cardiovascular, pneumonia, and major surgery), and looked at combined rates for all adverse event types, as well as for four combined subtypes separately: hospital-acquired infections, adverse drug events, post-procedural events, and falls and pressure ulcers combined. Not all of our findings were what people unfamiliar with our measures would have expected.

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Medical Residents Work Almost 70 hours per week, 1/3 on Electronic Records

David Ouyang MD Department of Internal Medicine Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, California

Dr. David Ouyang

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David Ouyang MD
Department of Internal Medicine
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, California

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

Dr. Ouyang: In American teaching hospitals, trainee resident physicians are an integral part of the medical team in performing procedures, writing notes, and coordinating care. As more care is being facilitated by electronic medical record (EMR) systems, we are just now finally able to understand how much residents work and how residents spend their time. In our study, we examined the types and timing of electronic actions performed on the EMR system by residents and found that residents spend about a third (36%) of their day in front of the computer and frequently perform many simultaneous tasks across the charts of multiple patients. Additionally, residents often do work long hours, with a median of 69.2 hours per week when on the inpatient medicine service.

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Electronic Records Can Suppress Rapport Between Patients and Providers

Neda Ratanawongsa, MD, MPH CMIO for CareLinkSF Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations Physician, Richard H. Fine People's Clinic (RHPC) San Francisco, CA 94110

Dr. Ratanawongsa

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Neda Ratanawongsa, MD, MPH

CMIO for CareLinkSF
Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine
UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations
Physician, Richard H. Fine People’s Clinic (RHPC)
San Francisco, CA 94110

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Ratanawongsa: Many people are concerned about the growing intrusion of computers into the patient-provider relationship. Touted as systems that will make care safer and more cost-effective, electronic health records (EHRs) have proliferated rapidly across the country, fueled by HITECH funding. However, some health care professionals feel like computers keep them from connecting with their patients. Also prior research has shown that computer use can change communication in the exam room and shift agenda from patients’ concerns toward medical talk.

Safety net patients already face communication barriers in routine care, particularly language and literacy barriers. Although EHRs could help improve care and communication with these vulnerable patients by helping clinicians fill in the gaps (e.g., what happened in the ED, what medication were you given by that specialist), EHRs could also worsen communication by drawing clinicians’ focus away from patients during visits.

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Electronic Health Records Linked To Only Slightly Better Medical Care

Jonathan R. Enriquez, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Cardiology University of Missouri- Kansas City Director, Coronary Care Unit Truman Medical Center

Dr. Enriquez

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jonathan R. Enriquez, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Cardiology
University of Missouri- Kansas City
Director, Coronary Care Unit
Truman Medical Center 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Enriquez:  

  • In 2009, U.S. legislation appropriated tens of billions of dollars to promote the use of electronic health records (EHRs).
  • Approximately 4 million hospitalizations for cardiovascular diagnoses occur annually in the U.S., which are more hospitalizations than for any other category of disease.  Therefore, evaluating the use of EHRs in these settings can help us understand how to best optimize the care and outcomes of a huge set of patients.

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Electronic Alerts Improved Sepsis Care and Outcomes

Dr. Pablo Moreno Franco Assistant Professor of Medicine MAYO Clinic

Dr. Franco

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
DrPablo Moreno Franco MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
MAYO Clinic

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

Dr. Pablo Franco: Early alerts and prompt management of patient with severe sepsis and septic shock (SS/S) starting in the emergency department (ED) have been shown to improve mortality and other pertinent outcomes. With this in mind, we formed a multidisciplinary sepsis and shock response team (SSRT) in September 2013. Automated electronic sniffer alerted ED providers for possible sepsis and when S/SS was identified, they were encouraged to activate SSRT.

SSRT-Compliance-Study-Cohort Two blinded reviewers retrospectively abstracted data on clinical trajectory and outcomes of all patients with sepsis and SS/S admitted at a single academic medical center between September 2013 and September 2014. Given importance of timely recognition and interventions in S/SS, we specifically focused on 2 periods: 0-4 hours and 4-12 hours after hospital admission. Additionally, we compared the compliance to “standard of care” between the SSRT pre-implementation period and the study period.

There were 167 patients admitted with sepsis, among which there were 3 SSRT activations and sepsis mortality was 3.6%. There were 176 patients with SS, SSRT was called in 42 (23%) and SS mortality was 8.5%. CCS was involved in 66 patients and mortality was 6.9% if SSRT was activated, versus 21.6% if SSRT was not activated. There were 76 patients with septic shock, SSRT was called in 44 (57%) and septic shock mortality was 25%. Critical Care Service (CCS) was involved in 68 patients and mortality rates with and without SSRT were 30.9% and 15.4%, respectively. The all-or-none compliance with applicable goals of resuscitation improved from the baseline 0% to over 50% at the study period end. Overall observed/expected sepsis mortality index improved from 1.38 pre-SSRT to 0.68 post-SSRT implementation.

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Electronic Health Records Not Adaptive To Patient-Centered Primary Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr-Talley-Holman
Talley Holman, PhD, MBA 
Senior eHealth Systems Analyst, Practice Advancement
American Academy of Family Physicians
Leawood, KS 66211  and

John Beasley MD Professor of Family Medicine School of Medicine and Public Health and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering University of Wisconsin Madison, WIJohn Beasley MD
Professor of Family Medicine
School of Medicine and Public Health and the
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
University of Wisconsin Madison, WI

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Holman: From an engineering standpoint, tools such as EHRs are designed based on objectives, and the workflows that are created are developed to achieve those objectives. In health care, workflows have not been well understood, so designers have made assumptions when pressed to create tools to address specific situations, problems, or issues. However, the effectiveness of many of these tools is lacking, based on feedback. This led us to take a step back and ask if there is a standard workflow, and if so, what is it?

Dr. Beasley: Physicians (and staff) have noted that the EHR is not doing a good job of supporting their work – and changes are made that appear to disrupt the physician’s workflow. There appears to have been an assumption on the part of designers/implementers that workflow is linear.

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Electronic Medical Records Make It Harder to Understand the Patient’s Story

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lara Varpio, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine
Acting Associate Director, Graduate Programs in Health Professions Education
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Bethesda MD and
Dr. Judy Rashotte PhD
Director Nursing Research and Knowledge Translation Consultant  
Ottawa Canada

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Drs. Varpio and Rashotte: Electronic health records (EHRs) are being adopted in healthcare centers around the world. The patient record is intricately implicated in care processes, clinical reasoning activities, and in collaborative work. As part of a larger study aimed at understanding how EHRs impact health professionals’ interprofessional collaborative practice (ICP), we explored how changing from a paper chart to an EHR can impact clinical reasoning.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Drs. Varpio and Rashotte: Our research demonstrated how different parts of the patient record (i.e. communication genres / artefacts) are part of the contextual factors that influence clinical reasoning and ICP. A key finding of our study is that building the patient’s story is an essential part of clinical reasoning activities. Making and understanding data interconnections is facilitated when clinicians are actively engaged in assembling isolated data bits into contextually-derived, comprehensive, and comprehensible ensembles. Building the patient’s story is facilitated through the use of a chronologically-organized textual narrative (i.e. free-text notations) structure and structures that promote visual bundles of clinical data. The use of an EHR can problematize clinicians’ ability to build the patient’s story and to disseminate it with other members of the care team when data interconnections are fragmented. Fragmentation happens when narrative spaces are dispersed and/or character-limited, and when data displays are not chronologically organized in visual assemblies. The constraint of chronologically and contextually isolated data inhibits clinicians’ ability to read the why and how interpretations of clinical activities from other team members. When an EHR splinters narrative reports, there is a loss of shared interprofessional understanding of the patient’s story, and time efficient care delivery can be compromised.

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Integrating Outpatient and Hospital Electronic Health Records Is a Work In Progress

Professor Susan A. Sherer, Ph.D. Lehigh University College of Business and Economics Department of Management Bethlehem, PA 18015 MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Susan A. Sherer, Ph.D.
Lehigh University
College of Business and Economics
Department of Management
Bethlehem, PA 18015 

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

Dr. Sherer: With the growth in electronic health record implementation, there has been increasing demand for integration of these records within and across practice settings that have different work cultures, e.g. ambulatory and hospital locations. We find that computer integration alone does not result in coordination; users must value the integrated information and incorporate this information within their workflows. Users must move beyond technology acceptance and adaptation to focus on and value coordination. The system itself cannot drive these process changes; specific work process changes must be instituted and the users must adapt these changes.

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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.

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More Women Reach 100 Than Men, But Men Who Do Are Healthier

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Nisha C. Hazra MSc
Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences,
King’s College London, London, UK

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

Response: Our study was motivated by limited evidence about the health status of very old people, the fastest growing group of the UK population with significant implications for future NHS health-care costs. Our findings indicated an increasing number of people reaching the age of 100 years, with the increase being higher among women comparing to men (a ratio of 4 to 1). Another interesting finding was that men reaching 100 years tended to be healthier than their female counterparts. In particular, women were more likely to present multiple chronic diseases compared to men and tended to be more frail, experiencing more falls, fractures, incontinence and hearing/visual impairments.

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Patients With Lower Health Literacy May Find Electronic Health Care Portals Challenging

Dr. Courtney Lyles Ph.D. Assistant Professor UCSF School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Courtney Lyles Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
UCSF School of Medicine

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

Dr. Lyles: In our commentary (http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001852), we describe the Meaningful Use program sponsored by the federal government to incentivize healthcare systems to implement electronic health records (EHRs).  This Meaningful Use program also includes financial incentives for healthcare systems who can get substantial proportions of their patient population to access their electronic health records – that is, by logging into an online patient portal website to view medical information like lab results or immunization lists or to perform a healthcare task like requesting a medication refill or messaging their provider.  Because there are billions of dollars at stake in this program for EHR implementation, there is a lot of attention on this issue right now.  Many thought leaders are discussing how we can transform healthcare by digitizing medical information and connecting with patients in their everyday life outside of office or hospital visits.  Portals are key to a lot of changes we might make in healthcare delivery in an attempt to increase convenience and satisfaction for patients.  Perhaps most importantly, these online portal websites are also one of the first health technologies that will be relatively uniformly distributed across healthcare settings, from private doctor’s offices to public clinics/hospitals serving vulnerable patient populations.

However, our main message is that we in the medical and healthcare fields should be paying more attention to how patients are able to understand and use the information provided through portal websites.  There is a lot of evidence that patients who have lower education/income, are from racial/ethnic minority groups, or have limited health literacy are significantly less likely to use the existing portal websites.  There is also evidence that portal websites are not extremely usable or accessible, which is an additional barrier for those with communication barriers like lower literacy or limited English proficiency.  Therefore, we don’t want widespread EHR implementation to result in only the most well-resourced individuals gaining the potential benefits of portal access.

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Electronic Health Records Allow Agencies To Improve Surveillance and Patient Care

Dawn Heisey-Grove, MPHCDCMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dawn Heisey-Grove, MPH
Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Washington, DC

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response:  Population health surveillance can be costly, time consuming, and limited, depending on the data source. Electronic Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs) reported to the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program reflect aggregate data on all patients seen by a participating health care provider during a given measure’s reporting period and therefore represent a substantial proportion of the U.S. population. These data are reported as a function of a federal program and are the result of automated extraction from an EHR, which might streamline the reporting process for the health care provider, resulting in data that are a useful resource in public health surveillance.

Medical Research:? What are the main findings?

Response: This first published use of Medicare EHR Incentive Program data for national population surveillance reported on an eCQM that is aligned with Million Hearts®, a national initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The eCQM tracks the proportion of patients with hypertension who had controlled blood pressure during the reporting period. During the first three years of the EHR Incentive Program (2011-2013), approximately 3 in 10 participating health care professionals reported on this eCQM, making it the 5th most commonly selected measure overall. This represented 63,000 ambulatory care professionals and approximately 17 million patients. On average, 62 percent of patients with hypertension had controlled blood pressure. Read more here.

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

Response: Electronic health record systems provide an opportunity to improve patient care and more easily monitor population health. Using data stored in EHRs, clinicians may be better equipped to generate reports that track the health of high risk patients. In addition, public health could expand its surveillance capabilities, potentially at lower costs and in a more timely fashion, by taking advantage of existing systems such as eCQM reporting. Further alignment of eCQMs across federal and private sector programs will enable clinicians to collect data once and report to selected programs.

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

Response: Future research endeavors should begin to maximize the potential data captured through eCQM reporting. State and local public health agencies can partner with state, regional, or local health information exchanges; the state primary care associations; the state Medicaid programs; and health systems to explore the use of existing EHR data for surveillance while still ensuring appropriate safeguards to maintain patient privacy. As EHR implementation becomes more widespread, the data collected by these systems will be invaluable for monitoring numerous clinical conditions.

Citation:

Using Electronic Clinical Quality Measure Reporting for Public Health Surveillance

Weekly

May 1, 2015 / 64(16);439-442

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dawn Heisey-Grove, MPH CDC (2015). Electronic Health Records Allow Agencies To Improve Surveillance and Patient Care MedicalResearch.com

Pop-Up Screen On Electronic Medical Records May Reduce Some Unnecessary Testing

Elliot B Tapper, M.D. Clinical Fellow in Medicine (EXT) Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Boston MA 02215MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Elliot B Tapper, M.D.
Clinical Fellow in Medicine (EXT)
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston MA 02215

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

Dr. Tapper: Elevation of liver enzymes is a common problem, affecting 7.9% of Americans. It is usually related to typical conditions such as fatty liver disease or viral hepatitis. Oftentimes, clinicians test patients with elevated liver enzymes for a multitude of possible causes including very rare genetic diseases, for example, a disease called Wilson Disease. This pattern of evaluation is called non-directed testing. It is a specific form of over-testing that is common in many fields and can be expensive or generate false positives. Wilson Disease, an inborn error of copper metabolism associated with liver injury, is rare (prevalence 0.003%) and there are guidelines available to suggest who should be tested, usually with a blood test called ceruloplasmin. These guidelines suggest excluding common liver diseases before testing for Wilson Disease and testing in younger patients (< 55 years old) because it is very rare to present after age 55.

We created a ‘pop-up’ screen in our provider ordering system to present clinicians who were choosing to order ceruloplasmin with the guidelines as well as its test characteristics, while still allowing them to order the test if they wanted. We studied the 7 months before and after the implementation of this intervention. We found a 51% reduction in ceruloplasmin orders. More importantly, we found that simultaneous testing for common liver diseases like viral hepatitis declined by 54% and the number of patients over the age of 55 who were tested declined by 61%. Incidentally, all positive tests were false positives.

First, we show that adherence to guidelines can be achieved when the ordering system interrupts clinician workflow to provide concrete data and advice. Second, we feel that there is considerable benefit to be obtained from similar interventions via reduced costs and fewer false positives given how common non-directed testing is in medical practice. Other areas that could benefit include, for example, antibody tests for rheumatogic or infectious diseases and daily blood tests for stable inpatients.

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

Dr. Tapper: Future research should pursue two questions. First, interventions to reduce over testing should include an assessment of patient outcomes both in terms of the burden of false positives or the possibility of missed diagnoses.

Second, studies should assess whether a directed strategy of testing is cost-effective compared to the seemingly more convenient all-at-once non-directed strategy.

Citation:

Tapper EB, Sengupta N, Lai M, Horowitz G. A Decision Support Tool to Reduce Overtesting for Ceruloplasmin and Improve Adherence With Clinical Guidelines. JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 01, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.2062.

 

Elliot B Tapper, M.D., Clinical Fellow in Medicine (EXT), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, & Boston MA 02215 (2015). Pop-Up Screen On Electronic Medical Records May Reduce Some Unnecessary Testing 

Electronic Medical Records Did Not Improve Stroke Outcomes Or Quality Of Care

Dr. Karen E. Joynt, MD MPH Cardiovascular Division Brigham and Women's Hospital and VA Boston Healthcare System Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Karen E. Joynt, MD MPH

Cardiovascular Division,
Brigham and Women’s Hospital and VA Boston Healthcare System
Department of Health Policy and Management
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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

Dr. Joynt: While there is a great deal of optimism about the potential of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to improve health care, there is little national data examining whether hospitals that have implemented EHRs have higher-quality care or better patient outcomes.  We used national data on 626,473 patients with ischemic stroke to compare quality and outcomes between hospitals with versus without EHRs.  We found no difference in quality of care, discharge home (a marker of good functional status), or in-hospital mortality between hospital with versus without EHRs.  We did find that the chances of having a long length of stay were slightly lower in hospitals with EHRs than those without them.

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Emergency Room Coding Of Heart Failure Diagnosis Validated

Justin A. Ezekowitz, MBBCh MScAssociate Professor, University of Alberta Co-Director, Canadian VIGOUR Centre Director, Heart Function Clinic Cardiologist, Mazankowski Alberta Heart InstiMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Justin A. Ezekowitz, MBBCh MSc
Associate Professor, University of Alberta
Co-Director, Canadian VIGOUR Centre
Director, Heart Function Clinic
Cardiologist, Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Ezekowitz: Heart Failure is a prevalent health issue that carries high morbidity and mortality. Most epidemiologic research derives information from hospital discharge abstracts, but emergency department visits are another source of information. Many have assumed this code is accurate in the emergency department but uncertainty remains.

In our study, we assessed patients at their presentation to Emergency Department, which is usually the first medical contact for acutely ill patients with heart failure.

The objective of our study was to compare administrative codes for acute heart failure (I50.x) in the emergency department against a gold standard of clinician adjudication.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Ezekowitz: Emergency department administrative data is highly correlated with a clinician adjudicated diagnosis. The positive predictive value of acute heart failure as the main diagnosis was 93.3% when compared to clinician adjudication, supported by standardized scoring systems and elevated BNP. Continue reading

Electronic Records Facilitating Hospital Reporting Of Public Health Measures

Dawn Heisey-Grove, MPH Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Washington, DC 20201MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dawn Heisey-Grove, MPH
Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis
Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Washington, DC 20201

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Response: To complete outbreak investigations and perform tasks geared towards improving the public’s health, public health agencies need clinical information from hospitals and health care providers. Adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and other health IT has made it possible to shift from time-intensive, paper-based public health reporting to electronic information exchange, which enables sending more complete information to public health agencies faster.

Such electronic information exchange with public health agencies is a component of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program meaningful use attestation process. Hospitals in the first stage of meaningful use must select at least one of three optional public health measures to report: immunization registry reporting, syndromic surveillance reporting, and electronic laboratory results reporting. Hospitals in the second stage of meaningful use are required to report on all three public health measures unless there is a valid exclusion.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Response: Using 2014 data from the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, we found that stage 2 hospitals were electronically reporting to local public health agencies more than stage 1 hospitals. Nationally, almost 75% of stage 2 hospitals were able to report all three measures to public health agencies, compared to only 5% of stage 1 hospitals. Stage 2 hospitals had very high rates for electronic exchange with public health agencies across all three measures. Specifically, immunization registry reporting among stage 2 hospitals was highest at 88%, 85% were electronically submitting lab results, and 75% successfully reported the syndromic surveillance measure.

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Hispanic and Uninsured Adults May Experience Barriers To Blood Pressure Control

Stella Yi, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Professor Department of Population Health New York University School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Stella Yi, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Professor
Department of Population Health
New York University School of Medicine

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

Dr. Yi: Self-blood pressure monitoring has been shown to be an effective tool for improving blood pressure control, however most studies have only included white race participants. We were interested in assessing whether distribution of self-blood pressure monitors (intervention) would improve blood pressure and hypertension control over usual care (control) in a 9-month period in a predominantly Hispanic, uninsured population. Systolic blood pressure improved over time in both the intervention (n=409) and the control (n=419) arms by 14.7 mm Hg and 14.1 mm Hg, respectively, as did hypertension control; 39% of study participants overall achieved control at the end of follow-up. However there were no statistical differences between the outcomes in the intervention and usual care groups. Continue reading

Should Hospitalized Patients Have Access To Their Electronic Medical Record?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jonathan Pell, MD Assistant Professor Hospital Medicine University of Colorado DenverJonathan Pell, MD
Assistant Professor Hospital Medicine
University of Colorado Denver

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Pell: Back in 2001, the Institute of Medicine’s charter document Crossing the Quality Chasm proposed that the health care system needs to do a better job of patient centered care. In order to provide true patient centered care, we must provide patients and their families with the knowledge and tools they need to make autonomous and informed decisions about their healthcare. A patient cannot make informed decisions about their healthcare without having easy access to their own health information. Almost 15 years later, we are still discussing whether or not patients should have immediate electronic access to information in their electronic health record. Studies have shown that giving outpatients direct electronic access to their test results and even doctors notes does not cause patients worry or confusion, and there is no undue burden on care providers explaining this newly accessible information to their patients. Despite this, many institutions still have a moratorium on release of patients’ test results, and the duration of this moratorium is variable from institution to institution. The technology to deliver this type of information real-time to patients is readily available. We decided to explore the effect of giving hospitalized patients real-time access to their test results and hospital medication list/schedule.

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Rally Health Gamifies Digital Platform To Support and Engage Consumers

Rally HealthMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Brian Dolan
Chief Strategy and Partner Integration Officer
Rally Health

MedicalResearch.com Editor’s note: On February 3, 2015, Rally Health launched a New HIPPA compliant Digital Engagement platform that gives consumers the support and tools they need to better manage their health and well-being. Brian Dolan, the Chief Strategy and Partner Integration Officer at Rally Health, was kind enough to answer questions regarding the new health care interface for the readers of MedicalResearch.com.

MedicalResearch: What is the background or vision for the Rally Health digital engagement platform?

Mr. Dolan: We designed the platform to give consumers the support and tools they need to better manage their health and well-being. Rally leverages the power of personal health data, social networking, and gamification to encourage consumers to take control of their health. Rally’s proven behavior-changing technology encourages consumers to manage their own health by inspiring sustained action and offering intrinsic and extrinsic value-based incentives for engagement. Members can also meet other Rally users for ongoing support and encouragement. With the right balance of social and digital connectivity, Rally Health creates a modern consumer experience that makes getting healthy personal, relevant and fun.

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Surgical Quality Enhanced By Electronics Records Data

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jamie Anderson MD MPH
Department of Surgery
University of California, San Diego

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

Dr. Anderson: Risk adjustment is an important component of outcomes and quality analysis in surgical healthcare. To compare two hospitals fairly, you must take into account the “risk profile” of their patients. For example, a hospital operating on predominately very sick patients with multiple co-morbidities would be expected to have different outcomes to a hospital operating on relatively healthier patients with fewer co-morbidities. Somewhat counter-intuitively, it is possible that a hospital with a 10% mortality rate may be better than a hospital with 5% mortality rate when you adjust for the risk of the patient population.

Currently, the “gold standard” database to evaluate surgical outcomes is the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP), which includes a number of variables on each patient to perform risk adjustment. However, collecting these variables is costly and time consuming. There is also concern that risk adjusted benchmarking systems can be “gamed” because they include data elements that require subjective interpretation by hospital personnel.

With the widespread adoption of electronic health records, the aim of this study was to determine whether a number of objective data elements already used for patient care could perform as well as a traditional, full risk adjustment model that includes other provider-assessed and provider-recorded data elements.

We tested this hypothesis with an analysis of the NSQIP database from 2005-2010, comparing models that adjusted for all 66 pre-operative risk variables captured by NSQIP to models that only included 25 objective variables. These results suggest that rigorous risk adjusted surgical quality assessment can be performed relying solely on objective variables already captured in electronic health records.

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Electronic Registries May Improve Diabetes Detection and Management

Dr. Tim A. Holt PhD MRCP FRCGP NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer University of Oxford Department of Primary Care Health Sciences Radcliffe Observatory Quarter Woodstock Road OxfordMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Tim A. Holt PhD MRCP FRCGP
NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer
University of Oxford
Department of Primary Care Health Sciences
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road Oxford

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Holt: Undiagnosed diabetes is a serious and very costly problem. Early diagnosis is important to reduce risk of long term complications. A structured approach to management at the practice level involves electronic diabetes registers, enabling audit of care, automated recall, and screen reminders. Such registers depend on the presence of an electronic code for diabetes in the record.  Continue reading

Electronic Health Record Alerts Reduced Urinary Tract Infections

Craig A Umscheid, MD, MSCE, FACP Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology Director, Center for Evidence-based Practice Medical Director, Clinical Decision Support Chair, Department of Medicine Quality Committee Senior Associate Director, ECRI-Penn AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Center University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Craig A Umscheid, MD, MSCE, FACP
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology
Director, Center for Evidence-based Practice
Medical Director, Clinical Decision Support
Chair, Department of Medicine Quality Committee

Senior Associate Director, ECRI-Penn AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Center
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Umscheid: We found that targeted automated alerts in electronic health records significantly reduce urinary tract infections in hospital patients with urinary catheters. In addition, when the design of the alert was simplified, the rate of improvement dramatically increased.

Approximately 75 percent of urinary tract infections acquired in the hospital are associated with a urinary catheter, which is a tube inserted into the bladder through the urethra to drain urine.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 to 25 percent of hospitalized patients receive urinary catheters during their hospital stay. As many as 70 percent of urinary tract infections in these patients may be preventable using infection control measures such as removing no longer needed catheters resulting in up to 380,000 fewer infections and 9,000 fewer deaths each year.

Our study has two crucial, applicable findings.  First, electronic alerts do result in fewer catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Second, the design of the alerts is very important. By making the alert quicker and easier to use, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of catheters removed in patients who no longer needed them. Fewer catheters means fewer infections, fewer days in the hospital, and even, fewer deaths. Not to mention the dollars saved by the health system in general.

In the first phase of the study, two percent of urinary catheters were removed after an initial “off-the-shelf” electronic alert was triggered (the stock alert was part of the standard software package for the electronic health record). Hoping to improve on this result in a second phase of the study, we developed and used a simplified alert based on national guidelines for removing urinary catheters that we previously published with the CDC. Following introduction of the simplified alert, the proportion of catheter removals increased more than seven-fold to 15 percent.

The study also found that catheter associated urinary tract infections decreased from an initial rate of .84 per 1,000 patient days to .70 per 1,000 patient-days following implementation of the first alert and .50 per 1,000 patient days following implementation of the simplified alert. Among other improvements, the simplified alert required two mouse clicks to submit a remove-urinary-catheter order compared to seven mouse clicks required by the original alert.

The study was conducted among 222,475 inpatient admissions in the three hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania Health System between March 2009 and May 2012. In patients’ electronic health records, physicians were prompted to specify the reason (among ten options) for inserting a urinary catheter. On the basis of the reason selected, they were subsequently alerted to reassess the need for the catheter if it had not been removed within the recommended time period based on the reason chosen.
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Do Electronic Records Cause Patients To Withhold Information From Their Doctors?

MedicalResearch.com Interview
Celeste Campos-Castillo PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Campos-Castillo: Approximately 13% of adults in the U.S. have held back information from doctors out of privacy or security concerns. When we compare adults with the same characteristics (e.g., age and education, overall health, and health care characteristics like having insurance and seeing a doctor in the past year) based on whether their doctor uses an electronic health record (EHR) system or not, we find that those with a doctor that uses an electronic health record were more likely to hold back information than those whose doctor does not use an electronic health record.

Other studies have looked at whether electronic health records are related to withholding information out of privacy concerns, but the evidence was mixed: sometimes patients with EHRs were more likely to hold back information from doctors, other times there but sometimes there was no difference in withholding between patients of doctors who used EHRs and those who did not.

What makes our study unique is that we consider a range of factors in the analysis that can disguise the real relationship between EHRs and withholding information because of privacy concerns. In particular, we take into account how patient ratings of quality of care play a complicated role in this situation. Patients with doctors who use EHRs often rate the quality of care they receive higher than those with doctors who are not using these systems. At the same time, higher quality ratings generally mean that patients feel comfortable sharing information with doctors, even the sensitive information that we tend to keep to ourselves. Because quality ratings are associated both with EHRs and with holding back information from doctors, it is necessary to consider this in the analysis. Otherwise – as we show in the study – we would mistakenly conclude that EHRs are unrelated to holding back information. Instead, we show that when we accurately compare patients with the same characteristics, including quality ratings, patients with EHRs are more likely to withhold information from their doctors out of concerns for privacy.

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Validating Medicare Claims Data For Stroke

MedicalResearch.com Interview with
Hiraku Kumamar, MD, MPH
Department of Epidemiology
Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA and
Soko Setoguchi-Iwata, M.D.
Duke Clinical Research Institute
Durham, NC 27715

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: We evaluated the accuracy of discharge diagnosis of stroke in the Medicare claims database by linking it to a nationwide epidemiological study cohort with 30239 participants called REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS). We found that among the 282 events captured using a strict claims definition of stroke, 91% were true events.  We also found that 12% of the overall strokes had been identified only by Medicare claims, strongly supporting the use of these readily available data for event follow-up in cohort studies.
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Exchanging Medical Data Between Providers Leaves Room For Improvement

John D’Amore, President & CTO Diameter Health 1005 Boylston St #304 Newton MA 02461MedicalResearch.com Interview with
John D’Amore, President & CTO
Diameter Health
1005 Boylston St #304
Newton MA 02461

 

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: We examined C-CDA (Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture) documents from electronic health records and other health information technology vendors. C-CDA documents are an XML format for transmitting patient data (e.g. problems, allergies, medications, results, vital signs, smoking status). Usage of C-CDA documents is required for Stage 2 of Meaningful Use in the United States. Overall, we were readily able to extract data elements from these documents, but we found many places where clinical content could be improved. This leads to policy recommendations on improving C-CDA production and consumption. Since thousands of hospitals and many more physicians will be required to exchange these documents in the coming year, we believe our findings to be important and timely for those seeking to improve care continuity and information exchange.

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Electronic Health Records Can Present Ongoing Patient Safety Concerns

Dr. Hardeep Singh MD, MPH Chief the Health Policy, Quality & Informatics Program Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas Associate professor at Baylor College of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Hardeep Singh MD, MPH
Chief the Health Policy, Quality & Informatics Program
Veterans Affairs Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas
Associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Singh: EHRs use can prompt new patient safety concerns, and many of these problems are complex and difficult to detect. We sought to better understand the nature of these patient safety concerns and reviewed 100 closed investigations involving 344 technology-related incidents arising between 2009 and 2013 at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

We evaluated safety concerns related to technology itself as well as human and operational factors such as user behaviors, clinical workflow demands, and organizational policies and procedures involving technology. Three quarters of the investigations involved unsafe technology while the remainder involved unsafe use of technology. Most (70%) investigations identified a mix of 2 or more technical and/or non-technical underlying factors.

The most common types of safety concerns were related to the display of information in the EHR; software upgrades or modifications; and transmission of data between different components of the EHR system.

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