The use of an electronic clinical decision-support system may improve HIV patient outcomes, according to a study of such a system in December's Annals of Internal Medicine
The study, which for one year tracked the care of 1,011 patients with HIV being cared for by 33 providers at Massachusetts General Hospital HIV clinics, found that patients whose providers received interactive computer alerts fared better clinically as measured primarily by the patients' CD4 cell count than those assigned to a group in which static alerts were used.
Both types of alerts were produced as a result of database scans looking for information about patients' conditions or missed appointments. One group of providers received interactive alerts with hyperlinks giving them access to lab results, appointment histories and previous alerts, with the notice appearing on an electronic medical record summary page, in a biweekly e-mail and in the patient's record on a summary page. The static alerts were just posted in the patient's electronic summary page.
The study notes that despite the relatively narrow nature of the study, the system reviewed could be applied to other chronic conditions. "The alerting algorithms may be easily modified to monitor suboptimal follow-up, laboratory toxicities and disease markers specific to other illnesses, including diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure and chronic viral hepatitis," the authors wrote.