The use of electronic surveillance programs can be effective in targeting quality care gaps in outpatient settings, a new paper from Kaiser Permanente reveals.
The paper, published in the journal eGEMs, details the effectiveness of "The Kaiser Permanente Southern California Outpatient Safety Net Program (OSNP)." The OSNP uses an electronic clinical surveillance tool within the electronic health record (EHRs) system, as well as proactive clinicians, to scan for quality improvement opportunities such as conflicting medications and the need for follow-up tests. The difference between OSNP and most patient safety programs, the paper's authors say, is that most focus on emergency or inpatient care, while this looks for opportunities in outpatient settings.
"More than 98 percent of interactions with patients occur in outpatient settings, and the Outpatient Safety Net Program leverages the power of electronic health records to target care gaps by scanning for things like medication interactions or needed follow-up tests," Michael H. Kanter, M.D., the study's author and regional medical director of Quality and Clinical Analysis, Southern California Permanente Medical Group, said in a statement. "For instance, a patient who is on one or more medications that require annual monitoring who has not come in to get his or her blood drawn for the necessary test will be flagged by our electronic clinical surveillance tool, and we will remind the patient to come in and have his or her lab work done."
The key factor in the success of this program Kaiser says is the organization's EHR system, which has 9.3 million patients on file. However, researchers claim that even if you don't have a robust EHR, you can still utilize electronic surveillance programs if key pieces of information in digital format.