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The Regenstrief Institute

Study: EHRs underutilized by preventionists

By Maureen McKinney
Posted: February 25, 2013 - 1:45 pm ET

Clinical informatics systems hold promise for detecting and preventing healthcare-associated infections, but such tools are currently underutilized by hospital infection preventionists, according to a study.

Using survey data from more than 40 infection preventionists working in states with health information exchanges, researchers assessed their knowledge, adoption and use of electronic health-record systems, as well as their awareness of regional exchange initiatives and public health reporting capabilities.

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Led by Brian Dixon, an investigator at the Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute and an assistant professor in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, researchers found that infection preventionists were rarely involved in EHR selection or implementation, and were often unsure about whether their organization participated in an exchange.

According to the study, 70% of surveyed infection preventionists reported having access to an EHR, but only one-fifth of respondents said they were involved in designing, selecting or implementing the system.

Researchers argued that without infection preventionists' direct involvement in those processes, hospital information systems often lacked the modules and components most useful for infection surveillance and control.

“We learned that hospital infection preventionists are frustrated with inefficient lists of patients whose electronic medical charts they must examine individually,” Dixon said in a news release. “They say they want electronic alerts and reminders when the system detects something of potential importance. There needs to be concerted R&D to meet this gap in decision support.”

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