Thursday, July 31, 2008

Practice Reminders

The flowsheets from the Vermedx® Diabetes Information System (VDIS) give providers information when a lab test is done. However, one of the big problems in diabetes (and other chronic diseases) is that many patients don't get the tests they need on time. Part of the reason for this is that the schedule for when tests are needed is complicated. Each of the four basic tests (A1C, cholesterol, serum creatinine, and urine protein) have a different due date that depends on the date and the level of the previous result. The rules are hard to remember and doctors and nurses don't have a good way to keep track of them.

So, we programmed the VDIS to scan the database of results looking for patients who are overdue for one of the tests. When it finds one, it produces a simple report to the practice that says, basically, "Hey! This patient is getting lost! Get a hold of them and bring them back under care!"

A full size sample of the report can be seen here.

Practice Reminders arrive at the practice 30 days after the test was due. If the practice has a protocol or standing orders, the office staff can call the patient, order the lab tests, and schedule an office visit for a few days after the tests. At the visit, the provider can review the results with the patient face-to-face and together they can make a plan based on current information. This is often much better than getting the tests after the visit and writing a letter or playing phone tag.

Practice Reminders are a Value Added service that a Health Information Exchange can provide at low cost. Stay tuned for some other examples of ways to use HIE to improve care.



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