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J Gen Intern Med. 2018 Jul;33(7):1043-1051. doi: 10.1007/s11606-018-4393-y. Epub 2018 Mar 12.

The Impact of Automated Notification on Follow-up of Actionable Tests Pending at Discharge: a Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial.

Author information

1
Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA. adalal1@bwh.harvard.edu.
2
Hospital Medicine Unit, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA. adalal1@bwh.harvard.edu.
3
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. adalal1@bwh.harvard.edu.
4
Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
5
Hospital Medicine Unit, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
6
Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
7
CRICO/Risk Management Foundation of the Harvard Medical Institutions, Boston, MA, USA.
8
Partners HealthCare, Inc., Boston, MA, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Follow-up of tests pending at discharge (TPADs) is poor. We previously demonstrated a twofold increase in awareness of any TPAD by attendings and primary care physicians (PCPs) using an automated email intervention OBJECTIVE: To determine whether automated notification improves documented follow-up for actionable TPADs DESIGN: Cluster-randomized controlled trial SUBJECTS: Attendings and PCPs caring for adult patients discharged from general medicine and cardiology services with at least one actionable TPAD between June 2011 and May 2012 INTERVENTION: An automated system that notifies discharging attendings and network PCPs of finalized TPADs by email MAIN MEASURES: The primary outcome was the proportion of actionable TPADs with documented action determined by independent physician review of the electronic health record (EHR). Secondary outcomes included documented acknowledgment, 30-day readmissions, and adjusted median days to documented follow-up.

KEY RESULTS:

Of the 3378 TPADs sampled, 253 (7.5%) were determined to be actionable by physician review. Of these, 150 (123 patients discharged by 53 attendings) and 103 (90 patients discharged by 44 attendings) were assigned to intervention and usual care groups, respectively, and underwent chart review. The proportion of actionable TPADs with documented action was 60.7 vs. 56.3% (p = 0.82) in the intervention vs. usual care groups, similar for documented acknowledgment. The proportion of patients with actionable TPADs readmitted within 30 days was 22.8 vs. 31.1% in the intervention vs. usual care groups (p = 0.24). The adjusted median days [95% CI] to documented action was 9 [6.2, 11.8] vs. 14 [10.2, 17.8] (p = 0.04) in the intervention vs. usual care groups, similar for documented acknowledgment. In sub-group analysis, the intervention had greater impact on documented action for patients with network PCPs compared with usual care (70 vs. 50%, p = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS:

Automated notification of actionable TPADs shortened time to action but did not significantly improve documented follow-up, except for network-affiliated patients. The high proportion of actionable TPADs without any documented follow-up (~ 40%) represents an ongoing safety concern.

CLINICAL TRIALS IDENTIFIER:

NCT01153451.

KEYWORDS:

health information technology; patient safety; tests pending at discharge

PMID:
29532297
PMCID:
PMC6025668
[Available on 2019-07-01]
DOI:
10.1007/s11606-018-4393-y

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