Ascension, University of Pennsylvania study EHR algorithms for palliative care

To help clinicians understand when palliative care orders might be most appropriate, Ascension Health is participating in an National Institutes of Health-funded study run by University of Pennsylvania researchers to evaluate electronic health record-prompted automation of palliative care consult orders in the acute care setting.

The partnership will enable the Penn researchers and care teams at 11 Ascension facilities to ascertain when, based upon criteria in the EHR, palliative care consult orders can be considered the default.

The study will look at patients with end-stage renal disease who are on dialysis; patients with COPD who are either oxygen-dependent or who have been hospitalized two or more times in a 12-month span; and patients with advanced dementia admitted from a long-term care facility or prior placement of a surgical feeding tube or two or more additional hospitalizations in the past 12 months.

Lynn Hollar, senior clinical analyst lead for Ascension Information Services Clinical Information Systems and Ascension data architect Suzanne Parra will present the goals of the study, Palliative Care: Using the EHR for Patient Care, at HIMSS16 in Las Vegas next month.

“When we started looking at this, there was really nothing in an EHR that was an algorithm like we developed that said ‘Identify this patient as being eligible for palliative care,'” she said.

Yet, quantifying some of the factors that may determine whether palliative care is indicated can be particularly vexing for clinicians and, what’s more, palliative care is often mistakenly overlooked entirely.

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