January 13, 2020

Innovative app provides patient data on 7 conditions related to 40% of ED visits

Clinician decision support app spreading across an entire state

Doctors at Indiana University Health hospitals now have faster, easier access to information about the patients they are treating in the emergency department. The app, created in a partnership among Regenstrief Institute, Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE), IU Health and Indiana University School of Medicine, provides clinicians with only the most relevant information from a patient’s medical history related to the complaint that brought them to the hospital.

“There is an incredible amount of information available for most patients, but sifting through all of it to find the most crucial data can be very time consuming,” said Titus Schleyer, DMD, PhD, a Regenstrief research scientist and professor of biomedical informatics at IU School of Medicine. “Clinicians could spend three to five minutes searching for data in a patient’s records. This tool cuts that time to less than 10 seconds, freeing up more time to interact with the patient.”

The app covers several conditions: chest pain, abdominal pain, headache, weakness and dizziness, back pain, pregnancy, heartbeat irregularities, and trouble breathing. These conditions account for about 40 percent of all visits to the emergency department at IU Health.

The decision support tool has been in use in the emergency department at IU Health Methodist for about two years. Over the course of the development, the team has improved functionality and added features, including support for multiple conditions.

Its use has now expanded to include emergency departments at IU Health West, IU Health North and IU Health Saxony. The app will be rolled out to the remaining emergency departments in the IU Health system over the next nine months.

How the App Works

The app is integrated into the electronic health record (EHR) system. When the clinician selects a condition, such as chest pain, the app connects to the Indiana Network for Patient Care, the clinical data repository managed by the Indiana Health Information Exchange, and retrieves the patient’s test results, notes and other information most relevant to the complaint. The tool is a FHIR® (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) app, which is an application programming interface (API) allowing EHR systems to communicate with third-party applications using a common language.

“Before this app, providers had to leave the EHR and access the Indiana Network for Patient Care through a separate tool,” said John Kansky, president and chief executive officer of IHIE. “This eliminates the extra step. In addition, instead of sorting through every single health record, this app anticipates what the doctors are looking for and brings up only the most relevant information.”

Researchers hope it will improve patients’ outcomes as well as reduce costs, time and inconvenience by eliminating unnecessary tests and preventing readmissions to the hospital.

“The goal of this app is to allow providers to spend more time with patients, rather than searching through medical records, while also providing them the pertinent information they need to provide the best care possible,” said Jason T. Schaffer, M.D., emergency physician and associate medical information officer at IU Health and associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at IU School of Medicine. “What’s just as important is providing information on what is not available. With this decision support app, doctors don’t waste time searching for test results that may not exist.”

“Our goal with this project is to develop a framework that can be generalized to other use cases,” said Dr. Schaffer. “We hope to build upon this app and possibly make it available in other contexts to improve care.”

About Regenstrief Institute

Founded in 1969 in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute is a local, national and global leader dedicated to a world where better information empowers people to end disease and realize true health. A key research partner to Indiana University, Regenstrief and its researchers are responsible for a growing number of major healthcare innovations and studies. Examples range from the development of global health information technology standards that enable the use and interoperability of electronic health records to improving patient-physician communications, to creating models of care that inform practice and improve the lives of patients around the globe.

Regenstrief Institute is celebrating 50 years of healthcare innovation. Sam Regenstrief, a successful entrepreneur from Connersville, Indiana, founded the institute with the goal of making healthcare more efficient and accessible for everyone. His vision continues to guide the institute’s research mission.

About Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE)

The Indiana Health Information Exchange is one of the largest health information exchanges in the U.S., partnering with communities throughout Indiana and beyond to ensure health information is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there to improve care coordination and patient outcomes. IHIE connects hospitals, physician offices and other healthcare facilities in the state so they can provide the safest and highest quality patient care possible, while saving time and money. This one-of-a-kind network enables IHIE to assemble information to help providers make decisions critical to patient care and help providers identify patients needing testing, screenings and follow-up care for chronic diseases.

About Indiana University Health

Indiana University Health is the largest network of physicians in the state of Indiana. A unique partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine, one of the nation’s leading medical schools, gives patients access to leading-edge medicine and treatment options that are available first, and often only, at IU Health. Based in Indianapolis, Indiana, with dozens of facilities statewide, IU Health is a regional leader in providing the right healthcare when and where it’s needed.

About Indiana University School of Medicine

IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.

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