Medical Record Doesn’t Always Reflect Medications Patient Actually Taking

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Portable Information station, nurse, computer, hand wipes, 9th floor, Virginia Mason Hospital, Seattle, Washington, USA" by Wonderlane is licensed under CC BY 2.0Timothy Ryan PhD

This work was performed while Dr. Ryan was at
Precera Biosciences, 393 Nichol Mill Lane
Frankluin, Tennessee 

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

Response: The study design is quite simple.  We measured medication concentrations in patients, then compared empirically detected medications with prescribed medications in each patient’s medical record.  We used this information to estimate how many prescribed medications patients had actually taken and how often they took medications that were not in their medical record.  The later comparison is a particularly novel measure of the number and types of medications taken by patients unbeknownst to healthcare providers who use the medical record as a guide to patient care.

Further, the test was performed in blood and not urine, so we could obtain an estimate of how often patients were in range for medications that they did take – at least for medications where the therapeutic range for blood concentrations are well established.

In sum, we found that patients do not take all of their medications, the medical records are not an accurate indicator of the medications that patients ingest, and that even when taken as prescribed, medications are often out of therapeutic range.  The majority of out-of-range medications were present at subtherapeutic levels.  Continue reading

What Types of Health Care Records Are Breached?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas McCoy, M.D. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Massachusetts General Hospital Psychiatry Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. McCoy

Thomas McCoy, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Massachusetts General Hospital
Psychiatry
Massachusetts General Hospital

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

 Response: Big data has the potential to transform how we care for patients but comes with risks of big breaches. My co-author and I use health records in our research and we wanted to better understand the risks that these data might pose to our patients.

MedicalResearch.com:? What are the main findings? 

Response: The majority of breaches are of health care providers whereas the majority of breached records are from health plans. The three largest breaches account for the over half of records breached.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: This study doesn’t speak to any particular solution; rather, it speaks to the aspects of the system that are most often breached: In 2017 it was hacking or IT incidents and networked servers. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: This study speaks to the aspects of the system that are most often breached: In 2017 it was hacking or IT incidents and networked servers; however, much is left to be learned about the specific mechanisms and consequences of these events.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Large healthcare datasets present a means of transformational discovery but also come with real risks of large scale disclosure. 

Disclosures: Dr. McCoy reports unrelated grants from The Stanley Center at The Broad Institute, Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, and Telefonica Alpha. Dr. Perlis reports unrelated grants from the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institute of Mental Health, and Telefonica Alpha; serves on the scientific advisory board for Perfect Health, Genomind, and Psy Therapeutics; and consults to RID Ventures. Dr. Perlis is an editor of JAMA Network Open.

Citation:

McCoy TH, Perlis RH. Temporal Trends and Characteristics of Reportable Health Data Breaches, 2010-2017. JAMA. 2018;320(12):1282–1284. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.9222

 

Sep 28, 2018 @ 11:22 am

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Despite Promise, EMRs Have Not Reduced Administrative or Billing Expenses

Barak Richman JD, PhD Bartlett Professor of Law and Business Administration Duke University

Prof. Barak Richman

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Barak Richman JD, PhD
Bartlett Professor of Law and Business Administration
Duke University 

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

Response: The US not only has the highest health care costs in the world, we have the highest administrative costs in the world. If we can reduce non-value added costs like the ones we document, we can make substantial changes in the affordability of health care without having to resort to more draconian policy solutions.

Our paper finds that administrative costs remain high, even after the adoption of electronic health records.  Billing costs, for example, constituted 25.2% of professional revenue for ED departments and 14.5% of revenue for primary care visits.  The other numbers are captured below.

Administrative Costs Still High With EHRs

Administrative Costs Still High With EHRs

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Electronic Medical Records: Study Examines Patient-Initiated Amendment Requests

Dr David A Hanauer MD MS Department of Pediatrics University of Michigan Medical School Ann Arbor, MIMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr David A Hanauer MD MS
Department of Pediatrics
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, MI

 

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Hanauer: In this study we analyzed requests made by patients who wanted to make changes to their medical record. The goal was to develop an understanding of what the main reasons were for making a request to change the medical record, and what types of information they wanted changed.

One of the main findings was that about half of all requests were ultimately approved.  This suggests that patients reviewing their records can detect errors and have them corrected, which could ultimately lead to a more accurate record for a patient. In essence, giving patients the opportunity to further participate in their care by allowing them to review their record can lead to the identification and correction of errors or omissions.
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EHR: Electronic Health Records and Cost Challenges to Implementation

Dr Sarah Slight, School of Medicine Pharmacy and Health, Wolfson Research Institute University of Durham, United Kingdom.MedicalResearch.com Interview with;
Dr Sarah Slight, School of Medicine
Pharmacy and Health, Wolfson Research Institute
University of Durham, United Kingdom.


MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Slight: Our study identified four main cost categories associated with the implementation of EHR systems, namely: infrastructure (e.g., hardware and software), personnel (e.g., project management and training teams), estates / facilities (e.g., furniture and fittings), and other (e.g., consumables and training materials). Many factors were felt to impact on these costs, with different hospitals choosing varying amounts and types of infrastructure, diverse training approaches for staff, and different software applications to integrate with the new system.
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Health IT: Focus on Meaningful Use

Robert S. Rudin, Ph.D. Associate Policy Researcher RAND Corporation 20 Park Plaza, Suite 920 Boston, MA 02116MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Robert S. Rudin, Ph.D.
Associate Policy Researcher
RAND Corporation
Boston, MA 02116

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Rudin: We found that most published health IT implementation studies report positive effects on quality, safety, and efficiency. Most evaluations focus on clinical decision support and computerized provider order entry. However, not all studies report equally positive results, and differences in context and implementation are one likely reason for these varying results, yet details of context and implementation are rarely reported in these studies.
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