EHR alerts prevented $168K in unnecessary testing

A study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology examined how programming EHRs affected clinical testing.

Researchers programmed care pathway criteria around Gastrointestinal Pathogen Panels into a health system's EHR to provide best practice alerts as well as a "hard stop" that prevented physicians from ordering GIPPs when inappropriate. The panel detects 22 common disease-causing organisms but is costly. The test is useful for new patients but unnecessary for longtime inpatients or when used on a patient more than once.

What they found:

1. In the 15 months before activating the hard-stop feature, researchers noted that 21.5 percent of ordered GIPP tests were inappropriate.

2. Once researchers programmed the EHR, they found only 4.9 percent of GIPP tests were inappropriate.

"Diagnostic stewardship intervention, including both the best practice alert and hard stop, reduced testing by 46 percent for a potential savings of $168,000, even after accounting for the cost of alternative testing," researchers concluded.

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