Homegrown EHR software alerts doctors to readmissions

When a patient gets readmitted within five days, new software uses a hospital's scheduling system to text the hospitalist who discharged the patient.

New software aims to help close a care gap by alerting hospitalists to readmissions that occur within five days of discharge.

A two-week trial of the Murmur program presented at the Society of Hospital Medicine 2017 Annual Meeting produced notifications about 14 patients distributed among 18 attending hospitalists, according to an article in Medscape (reg. req.). The program links a hospital’s electronic health record system to its scheduling software, then uses that information to send a text to the hospitalist who discharged a patient in the event that patient gets readmitted.

Nader Najafi, M.D., an assistant clinical professor at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, where the software was developed, says the system can also help keep tabs on how busy hospitalists are from day to day. In that use case, hospitals can use survey software to send out small numbers of focused questions, which the system schedules and sends daily to only the relevant clinicians.

Such surveys provide hospitals with real-time results that Najafi believes they can use not only to make scheduling more efficient but also to improve patient satisfaction. “If we knew that not having enough lung doctors to do bronchoscopies, for example, was causing avoidable delays for our patients, maybe we could make the case for another pulmonologist,” he told Medscape.

While UCSF designed the program to work with Epic, the organization has released the program’s source code, so providers interested in developing a new query or adapting it to a different EHR are free to do so. Najafi figures an experienced programmer could likely develop a new simple query for another system in about a day, according to the article.

Emanuel Kokotakis, M.D., of the MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Baltimore sees additional ways in which the program’s ability to inform the right people at the right time could be used to improve care coordination.

For example, he says, communication channels linking ancillary providers to a hospital might be useful in differentiating a chronic condition from an emergent one, potentially reducing unnecessary readmissions.