Horng S, Pezzella L, Tibbles CD, Wolfe RE, Hurst JM, Nathanson LA. Prospective evaluation of daily performance metrics to reduce emergency department length of stay for surgical consults. J Emerg Med 2013;44(2):519-25.Abstract
BACKGROUND: As part of a quality improvement initiative to reduce Emergency Department (ED) length of stay (LOS) for surgical consult patients, we e-mailed performance metrics to key stakeholders on a daily basis. ED and Surgery leadership used these daily metrics to identify and remedy contributing factors for increased ED LOS in patients who received surgical consults. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether a quality improvement process driven by a daily performance metric e-mail would be associated with a change in ED LOS for surgical consult patients. METHODS: Prospective before-after study looking at ED LOS for surgical consult patients after an e-mail intervention at a tertiary academic teaching hospital. All consecutive adult ED patients between July 1, 2010 and October 1, 2010 who received a general surgical consult were enrolled. The primary outcome measure was ED LOS, and secondary outcome measure was time to consultation. RESULTS: There were 916 patients who had surgical consults placed during the study period; 459 patients presented before the intervention and 457 patients presented after the intervention. The median LOS decreased 54 min, from 463 min (interquartile range [IQR] 326-617) before the intervention to 409 min (IQR 294.5-528.5) after the intervention (p < 0.001). Time to consultation decreased 25 min, from a median of 160 min (IQR 87-265) to 135 min (IQR 70-239.5) (p = 0.002). There was no difference in age, severity, number of consults, or disposition. There was also no difference in median LOS for other consultation services or in previous years during the same time period. CONCLUSIONS: ED LOS and time to consultation were decreased for surgical consult patients after initiation of daily performance metric e-mails.
Al-Ali R, Reti S, Feldman H, Safran C, Niaz R, Erskine A, Elmagarmid A, Al-Musleh A. Hospital information system survey in qatar. Stud Health Technol Inform 2013;192:959.Abstract
UNLABELLED: Healthcare can be enhanced by the effective use of information technology to improve the quality and safety of care and many healthcare providers are adopting advanced health information technology to improve their healthcare delivery process. Qatar is a relatively young Middle Eastern country with an ambitious and progressive national strategy to develop its healthcare system, including an advanced e-health infrastructure delivering the right medical information at the right time to clinicians and patients. To assess the effectiveness of such programs, it is important to have a pre-intervention baseline from which comparisons, performance against target measures and forward thinking strategic planning can be grounded. This study presents the first published campus wide survey of Hospital Information Systems in large public and private hospitals in Qatar. OBJECTIVE: To qualitatively assess and describe the current state of Hospital Information Systems in large hospitals in Qatar, and to establish a baseline or reference point for Qatar's readiness for, and adoption of Hospital Information Systems.
Safran C. Medicine based upon data. J Gen Intern Med 2013;28(12):1545-6.
Crotty BH, Mostaghimi A, Arora VM. Online identities of physicians. JAMA 2013;310(23):2566-7.
Feldman HJ, Walker J, Li J, Delbanco T. OpenNotes: hospitalists' challenge and opportunity. J Hosp Med 2013;8(7):414-7.Abstract
At a time of societal fascination both with transparency and the explosion of health information technologies, a growing number of hospitals are offering, or will soon offer patients and their family instantaneous access to their doctors' and nurses' notes. What will this new opportunity for patient engagement mean for the hospitalist? Today, state and federal government regulations either encourage or require healthcare providers to grant patients access to their clinical information. But despite the rules embedded in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), patients often face time-consuming obstacles in their quest for access, and many providers view compliance as a burden. We suggest an alternative view: Over time, we anticipate that inviting patients to review their medical record will reduce risk, increase knowledge, foster active engagement, and help them take more control of their care. The OpenNotes trial provides clues as to how such practice will affect both patients and providers (1, 2). We anticipate that transparent records will stimulate hospitalists, PCPs, and other caregivers to improve communication throughout the patient's hospital stay. OpenNotes offers a special opportunity for improving the patient experience after leaving the hospital as well. Open notes will be viewed by many as a disruptive change, and the best strategy for adapting will be to move proactively to create policies that establish clear guidelines, for which the authors offer some suggestions.
Henning D, Horng S, Sanchez L. Evaluating how electronic charting affects resident productivity. Intern Emerg Med 2013;8(2):169-72.Abstract
Electronic medical records (EMRs) are becoming standard to improve the communication of information and longevity of patient records. Using an EMR in the emergency department (ED) could potentially slow residents evaluating patients. We evaluated how introducing an EMR affected resident productivity in an academic ED. We retrospectively studied first year emergency medicine residents from a large, academic, tertiary care center before-and-after the institution of an EMR on July 1st, 2010. No residents from the 2009-2010 class used the EMR, while all of the 2010-2011 residents used the EMR. We performed univariate and multivariate analyses using productivity, measured in patients per hour (pt/hr), as the primary outcome. A mixed-model multivariate regression, stratified by acuity zone, was created incorporating EMR and other possible confounders: admissions, signouts, daily ED volume, and days after July 1st for each shift. The study was granted IRB waiver of informed. We reviewed 2,405 shifts: 1,259 shifts before and 1,146 shifts after EMR implementation. When using the EMR, the univariate analysis estimated a 0.084 pt/hr increase in the high acuity zone (p = 0.1317) and 0.029 pt/hr decrease (p = 0.7085) in the low acuity zone. The multivariate regression estimated a 0.038 pt/hr increase (p = 0.3413) in the high acuity zone and a 0.009 pt/hr increase (p = 0.9049) in the low acuity zone with the EMR. Despite the expectation that electronic charting is detrimental to resident productivity, our analyses do not suggest a significant relationship between resident productivity and using the EMR.
Fischer SH, Field TS, Gagne SJ, Mazor KM, Preusse P, Reed G, Peterson D, Gurwitz JH, Tjia J. Patient completion of laboratory tests to monitor medication therapy: a mixed-methods study. J Gen Intern Med 2013;28(4):513-21.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Little is known about the contribution of patient behavior to incomplete laboratory monitoring, and the reasons for patient non-completion of ordered laboratory tests remain unclear. OBJECTIVE: To describe factors, including patient-reported reasons, associated with non-completion of ordered laboratory tests. DESIGN: Mixed-Methods study including a quantitative assessment of the frequency of patient completion of ordered monitoring tests combined with qualitative, semi-structured, patient interviews. PARTICIPANTS: Quantitative assessment included patients 18 years or older from a large multispecialty group practice, who were prescribed a medication requiring monitoring. Qualitative interviews included a subset of show and no-show patients prescribed a cardiovascular, anticonvulsant, or thyroid replacement medication. MAIN MEASURES: Proportion of recommended monitoring tests for each medication not completed, factors associated with patient non-completion, and patient-reported reasons for non-completion. KEY RESULTS: Of 27,802 patients who were prescribed one of 34 medications, patient non-completion of ordered tests varied (range: 0-24 %, by drug-test pair). Factors associated with higher odds of test non-completion included: younger patient age (< 40 years vs. ≥ 80 years, adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.52, 95 % confidence interval [95 % CI] 1.27-1.83); lower medication burden (one medication vs. more than one drug, AOR for non-completion 1.26, 95 % CI 1.15-1.37), and lower visit frequency (0-5 visits/year vs. ≥ 19 visits/year, AOR 1.41, 95 % CI 1.25 to 1.59). Drug-test pairs with black box warning status were associated with greater odds of non-completion, compared to drugs without a black box warning or other guideline for testing (AOR 1.91, 95 % CI 1.66-2.19). Qualitative interviews, with 16 no-show and seven show patients, identified forgetting as the main cause of non-completion of ordered tests. CONCLUSIONS: Patient non-completion contributed to missed opportunities to monitor medications, and was associated with younger patient age, lower medication burden and black box warning status. Interventions to improve laboratory monitoring should target patients as well as physicians.
Warner JL, Anick P, Drews RE. Physician inter-annotator agreement in the Quality Oncology Practice Initiative manual abstraction task. J Oncol Pract 2013;9(3):e96-102.Abstract
PURPOSE: The Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) relies on the accuracy of manual abstraction of clinical data from paper-based and electronic medical records (EMRs). Although there is no "gold standard" to measure manual abstraction accuracy, measurement of inter-annotator agreement (IAA) is a commonly agreed-on surrogate. We quantified the IAA of QOPI abstractions on a cohort of cancer patients treated at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. METHODS: The EMR charts of 49 patients (20 colorectal cancer; 18 breast cancer; 11 non-Hodgkin lymphoma) were abstracted by separate physician abstractors in the fall 2010 and fall 2011 QOPI abstraction rounds. Cohen's kappa (κ) was calculated for encoded data; raw levels of agreement and magnitude of discrepancies were calculated for numeric and dated data. RESULTS: One hundred two data elements with 2,035 paired entries were analyzed. Overall IAA for the 1,496 coded entries was κ = 0.75; median IAA for n = 85 individual coded elements was κ = 0.84 (interquartile range, 0.30 to 1.00). Overall IAA for the 421 dated entries was 73%; median IAA for n = 17 individual dated elements was 67% (interquartile range, 61% to 86%). CONCLUSION: This study establishes a baseline level of IAA for a complex medical abstraction task with clear relevance for the oncology community. Given that the observed κ is considered only fair IAA, and that the rate of date discrepancy is high, caution is necessary in interpreting the results of QOPI and other manual abstractions of clinical oncology data. The accuracy of automated data extraction efforts, possibly including a future evolution of QOPI, will also need to be carefully evaluated.
Crotty BH, Mostaghimi A, Landon BE. Preparing residents for future practice: report of a curriculum for electronic patient-doctor communication. Postgrad Med J 2013;89(1056):554-9.Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Patients frequently use secure web portals to access their medical record and communicate with their doctors, though few institutions currently train residents for electronic communication. We sought to develop a curriculum for secure messaging between patients and resident physicians, and to assess resident attitudes before and after the curriculum. METHODS: In 2011, we developed a curriculum for patient-doctor secure messaging using a web-based patient portal within an internal medicine residency programme. We asked all residents to perform a self-assessment of skills, and report attitudes toward electronic communication at the beginning and end of the experience (9 months apart). We enrolled residents who practiced at the hospital-based clinic site into the patient portal, and recorded usage statistics. RESULTS: The completed survey response rate was 108/159 (68%). At baseline, 57% of residents had used traditional email with patients, and most residents felt that the portal would increase work for providers but benefit patients. Postintervention questionnaires demonstrated no significant changes among all respondents, but residents who used the portal perceived improvements in care. Most residents were concerned about professional liability. More residents felt comfortable writing electronic messages to patients after the curriculum (80% to 91%, p=0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Implementing a patient web portal and secure messaging in a residency clinic is feasible and may improve the work and educational experience of trainees. Residents were initially sceptical of secure messaging being an additional burden to their work, but this was not realised among residents who used the portal.

Quintana Y, Van Kirk Villalobos A, Li Z, Kumar Srivastava D, Ribeiro RC. Cure4Kids for Kids: preliminary results on evaluating knowledge acquisition and knowledge retention. Stud Health Technol Inform 2012;172:120-8.Abstract
Since 2006 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has been developing Cure4Kids for Kids, a school-based outreach program to educate children about cancer and healthy lifestyles with a focus on cancer prevention. An evaluation of student knowledge acquisition and retention for the program at the Grade-4 level was conducted during the 2010-2011 school year. Preliminary results of this evaluation are outlined with some of the challenges for long-term program evaluation of cancer prevention programs.
Van Kirk Villalobos A, Quintana Y, Ribeiro RC. Cure4Kids for Kids: school-based cancer education outreach. Stud Health Technol Inform 2012;172:111-9.Abstract
In 2006, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital created Cure4Kids for Kids, a school-based outreach program. The objectives of this community education program are to teach about cancer and healthy lifestyles and to inspire an interest in science and health-related careers. A multidisciplinary team of St. Jude and outside experts developed and pilot tested age-appropriate educational materials and activities with 4th grade students. Eight schools and more than 800 children have participated in the program since 2006. Teachers and students have demonstrated a very positive response to the program for it being both fun and educational. Cure4Kids for Kids resources have been collected into a teacher's kit and are now freely available online at
Perakslis ED, Quintana Y. The global need for education on cancer health. Stud Health Technol Inform 2012;172:3-8.Abstract
Non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and chronic cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, remain a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide resulting in more than 36 million deaths annually. Of primary importance in the reduction of this pain and suffering is the local use of education to eliminate misconception, enable prevention, reduce the associated social stigmas, and prepare a workforce that can care for its own people as well as feed an economic engine helping to combat the poverty that so often determines the availability and quality of care. The need to develop these local capabilities is especially acute for children, as 80% of pediatric cancer cases occur in low- and middle-income countries, places where the survival rates are lowest.
Santiago TC, Jenkins JJ, Pedrosa F, Billups C, Quintana Y, Ribeiro RC, Qaddoumi I. Improving the histopathologic diagnosis of pediatric malignancies in a low-resource setting by combining focused training and telepathology strategies. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2012;59(2):221-5.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Accurate diagnosis is critical for optimal management of pediatric cancer. Pathologists with experience in pediatric oncology are in short supply in the developing world. Telepathology is increasingly used for consultations but its overall contribution to diagnostic accuracy is unknown. PROCEDURE: We developed a strategy to provide a focused training in pediatric cancer and telepathology support to pathologists in the developing world. After the training period, we compared trainee's diagnoses with those of an experienced pathologist. We next compared the effectiveness of static versus dynamic telepathology review in 127 cases. Results were compared by Fisher's exact test. RESULTS: The diagnoses of the trainee and the expert pathologist differed in only 6.5% of cases (95% CI, 1.2-20.0%). The overall concordance between the telepathology and original diagnoses was 90.6% (115/127; 95% CI, 84.1-94.6%). CONCLUSIONS: Brief, focused training in pediatric cancer histopathology can improve diagnostic accuracy. Dynamic and static telepathology analyses are equally effective for diagnostic review.
Alfaar AS, Kamal S, Abouelnaga S, Greene WL, Quintana Y, Ribeiro RC, Qaddoumi IA. International telepharmacy education: another venue to improve cancer care in the developing world. Telemed J E Health 2012;18(6):470-4.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: In developed countries, pharmacists play a crucial role in designing and implementing cancer treatments as part of a multidisciplinary oncology team. However, developing countries have a shortage of pharmacists, and their role is generally limited to dispensing and selling drugs. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of providing clinical pharmacy educational activities via international teleconferencing to improve cancer care in developing countries. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Meticulous preparation and intense promotion of the workshop were done in Egypt before the telepharmacy conferences began. Multiple connectivity tests were performed to resolve technical problems. Nine telepharmacy conferences were delivered during 3-h sessions that were held on three consecutive days. Talks were subsequently made available via Web streaming. Attendees were requested to complete a survey to measure their satisfaction with the sessions. RESULTS: The teleconference was attended by a total of 345 persons, and it was subsequently reviewed online via 456 log-in sessions from 10 countries. Technical issues (e.g., poor auditory quality) were resolved on the first day of the event. The rate of attendees' responses on the survey was 30.1%, and satisfaction with the event was generally good. CONCLUSIONS: Telecommunication is a relatively inexpensive approach that may improve pharmacy practices, especially those used to treat patients with cancer in developing countries. Special attention to patient-based telepharmacy education, including the use of cost-effective technology, should be considered.
Crotty BH, Mostaghimi A, Reynolds EE. Adoption of a wiki within a large internal medicine residency program: a 3-year experience. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2012;19(4):621-5.Abstract
OBJECTIVE: To describe the creation and evaluate the use of a wiki by medical residents, and to determine if a wiki would be a useful tool for improving the experience, efficiency, and education of housestaff. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In 2008, a team of medical residents built a wiki containing institutional knowledge and reference information using Microsoft SharePoint. We tracked visit data for 3 years, and performed an audit of page views and updates in the second year. We evaluated the attitudes of medical residents toward the wiki using a survey. RESULTS: Users accessed the wiki 23,218, 35,094, and 40,545 times in each of three successive academic years from 2008 to 2011. In the year two audit, 85 users made a total of 1082 updates to 176 pages and of these, 91 were new page creations by 17 users. Forty-eight percent of residents edited a page. All housestaff felt the wiki improved their ability to complete tasks, and 90%, 89%, and 57% reported that the wiki improved their experience, efficiency, and education, respectively, when surveyed in academic year 2009-2010. DISCUSSION: A wiki is a useful and popular tool for organizing administrative and educational content for residents. Housestaff felt strongly that the wiki improved their workflow, but a smaller educational impact was observed. Nearly half of the housestaff edited the wiki, suggesting broad buy-in among the residents. CONCLUSION: A wiki is a feasible and useful tool for improving information retrieval for house officers.
Horng S, Goss FR, Chen RS, Nathanson LA. Prospective pilot study of a tablet computer in an Emergency Department. Int J Med Inform 2012;81(5):314-9.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The recent availability of low-cost tablet computers can facilitate bedside information retrieval by clinicians. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of physician tablet use in the Emergency Department. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study comparing physician workstation usage with and without a tablet. SETTING: 55,000 visits/year Level 1 Emergency Department at a tertiary academic teaching hospital. PARTICIPANTS: 13 emergency physicians (7 Attendings, 4 EM3s, and 2 EM1s) worked a total of 168 scheduled shifts (130 without and 38 with tablets) during the study period. INTERVENTION: Physician use of a tablet computer while delivering direct patient care in the Emergency Department. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measure was the time spent using the Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) at a computer workstation per shift. The secondary outcome measure was the number of EDIS logins at a computer workstation per shift. RESULTS: Clinician use of a tablet was associated with a 38min (17-59) decrease in time spent per shift using the EDIS at a computer workstation (p<0.001) after adjusting for clinical role, location, and shift length. The number of logins was also associated with a 5-login (2.2-7.9) decrease per shift (p<0.001) after adjusting for other covariates. CONCLUSION: Clinical use of a tablet computer was associated with a reduction in the number of times physicians logged into a computer workstation and a reduction in the amount of time they spent there using the EDIS. The presumed benefit is that decreasing time at a computer workstation increases physician availability at the bedside. However, this association will require further investigation.
Callaway DW, Peabody CR, Hoffman A, Cote E, Moulton S, Baez AA, Nathanson L. Disaster mobile health technology: lessons from Haiti. Prehosp Disaster Med 2012;27(2):148-52.Abstract
INTRODUCTION: Mobile health (mHealth) technology can play a critical role in improving disaster victim tracking, triage, patient care, facility management, and theater-wide decision-making. PROBLEM: To date, no disaster mHealth application provides responders with adequate capabilities to function in an austere environment. METHODS: The Operational Medicine Institute (OMI) conducted a qualitative trial of a modified version of the off-the-shelf application iChart at the Fond Parisien Disaster Rescue Camp during the large-scale response to the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti. RESULTS: The iChart mHealth system created a patient log of 617 unique entries used by on-the-ground medical providers and field hospital administrators to facilitate provider triage, improve provider handoffs, and track vulnerable populations such as unaccompanied minors, pregnant women, traumatic orthopedic injuries and specified infectious diseases. CONCLUSION: The trial demonstrated that even a non-disaster specific application with significant programmatic limitations was an improvement over existing patient tracking and facility management systems. A unified electronic medical record and patient tracking system would add significant value to first responder capabilities in the disaster response setting.
Slack WV, Kowaloff HB, Davis RB, Delbanco T, Locke SE, Safran C, Bleich HL. Evaluation of computer-based medical histories taken by patients at home. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2012;19(4):545-8.Abstract
The authors developed a computer-based general medical history to be taken by patients in their homes over the internet before their first visit with their primary care doctor, and asked six doctors and their participating patients to assess this history and its effect on their subsequent visit. Forty patients began the history; 32 completed the history and post-history assessment questionnaire and were for the most part positive in their assessment; and 23 continued on to complete their post-visit assessment questionnaire and were for the most part positive about the helpfulness of the history and its summary at the time of their visit with the doctor. The doctors in turn strongly favored the immediate, routine use of two modules of the history--the family and social histories--for all their new patients. The doctors suggested further that the summaries of the other modules of the history be revised and shortened to make it easier for them to focus on clinical issues in the order of their preference.
Durant KT, McCray AT, Safran C. Identifying gender-preferred communication styles within online cancer communities: a retrospective, longitudinal analysis. PLoS One 2012;7(11):e49169.Abstract
BACKGROUND: The goal of this research is to determine if different gender-preferred social styles can be observed within the user interactions at an online cancer community. To achieve this goal, we identify and measure variables that pertain to each gender-specific social style. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We perform social network and statistical analysis on the communication flow of 8,388 members at six different cancer forums over eight years. Kruskal-Wallis tests were conducted to measure the difference between the number of intimate (and highly intimate) dyads, relationship length, and number of communications. We determine that two patients are more likely to form an intimate bond on a gender-specific cancer forum (ovarian P = <0.0001, breast P = 0.0089, prostate P = 0.0021). Two female patients are more likely to form a highly intimate bond on a female-specific cancer forum (Ovarian P<0.0001, Breast P<0.01). Typically a male patient communicates with more members than a female patient (Ovarian forum P = 0.0406, Breast forum P = 0.0013). A relationship between two patients is longer on the gender-specific cancer forums than a connection between two members not identified as patients (ovarian forum P = 0.00406, breast forum P = 0.00013, prostate forum P = .0.0003). CONCLUSION: The high level of interconnectedness among the prostate patients supports the hypothesis that men prefer to socialize in large, interconnected, less-intimate groups. A female patient is more likely to form a highly intimate connection with another female patient; this finding is consistent with the hypothesis that woman prefer fewer, more intimate connections. The relationships of same-gender cancer patients last longer than other relationships; this finding demonstrates homophily within these online communities. Our findings regarding online communication preferences are in agreement with research findings from person-to-person communication preference studies. These findings should be considered when designing online communities as well as designing and evaluating psychosocial and educational interventions for cancer patients.
Quintana Y, Patel AN, Naidu PE, Howard SC, Antillon FA, Ribeiro RC. POND4Kids: a web-based pediatric cancer database for hospital-based cancer registration and clinical collaboration. Stud Health Technol Inform 2011;164:227-31.Abstract
The Pediatric Oncology Network Database, POND4Kids (, POND), is an online, multilingual clinical database created for use by pediatric oncology units in countries with limited resources to meet various clinical data management needs including cancer registration, data collection and changes in treatment outcome. Established as a part of the International Outreach Program at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, POND aims to provide oncology units a tool to store patient data for easy retrieval and analysis and to achieve uniform data collection to facilitate meaningful comparison of information among centers. Currently, POND is being used to store clinical data on thousands of patients and measure their treatment improvement over a period of time. In 2009 POND included more than 100 pediatric oncology units; each has its own virtual private area. A case study of the UNOP Guatemala Clinic's use of POND is presented. On-going challenges at partner sites include inconsistent data collection methods, missing records, training for data managers, and slow or unreliable internet connections.