Harnessing the electronic health record and computerized provider order entry data for resource management during the COVID-19 pandemic: Development of a decision tree

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Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in shortages of diagnostic tests, personal protective equipment, hospital beds, and other critical resources. Objective: We sought to improve the management of scarce resources by leveraging electronic health record (EHR) functionality, computerized provider order entry, clinical decision support (CDS), and data analytics. Methods: Due to the complex eligibility criteria for COVID-19 tests and the EHR implementation-related challenges of ordering these tests, care providers have faced obstacles in selecting the appropriate test modality. As test choice is dependent upon specific patient criteria, we built a decision tree within the EHR to automate the test selection process by using a branching series of questions that linked clinical criteria to the appropriate SARS-CoV-2 test and triggered an EHR flag for patients who met our institutional persons under investigation criteria. Results: The percentage of tests that had to be canceled and reordered due to errors in selecting the correct testing modality was 3.8% (23/608) before CDS implementation and 1% (262/26,643) after CDS implementation (P<.001). Patients for whom multiple tests were ordered during a 24-hour period accounted for 0.8% (5/608) and 0.3% (76/26,643) of pre-and post-CDS implementation orders, respectively (P=.03). Nasopharyngeal molecular assay results were positive in 3.4% (826/24,170) of patients who were classified as asymptomatic and 10.9% (1421/13,074) of symptomatic patients (P<.001). Positive tests were more frequent among asymptomatic patients with a history of exposure to COVID-19 (36/283, 12.7%) than among asymptomatic patients without such a history (790/23,887, 3.3%; P<.001). Conclusions: The leveraging of EHRs and our CDS algorithm resulted in a decreased incidence of order entry errors and the appropriate flagging of persons under investigation. These interventions optimized reagent and personal protective equipment usage. Data regarding symptoms and COVID-19 exposure status that were collected by using the decision tree correlated with the likelihood of positive test results, suggesting that clinicians appropriately used the questions in the decision tree algorithm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere32303
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Volume9
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Clinical decision support
  • Computerized provider order entry
  • Electronic health record
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Resource utilization
  • SARS-CoV-2 testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management

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