EHR clinical decision support tool IDs kidney disease risk

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have developed an electronic health record (EHR) tool capable of assisting physicians in accurately pinpointing patients at risk for chronic kidney disease.

In a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, researchers integrated the tool in EHRs to utilize different tests to calculate a patient's risk score. The clinical decision support tool calculates a patient's risk factor by reviewing serum and urine tests, allowing physicians to review a five-year kidney disease risk. If the risk is calculated to be high, the tool recommends a referral to a nephrologist.  

"Retrospective studies of patients who have had to go on dialysis show that being referred to a nephrologist just a few months earlier can have major benefits," said corresponding author Lipika Samal, MD, MPH, a clinician investigator in the Division of General Internal Medicine. "We want to make it as easy as possible for a physician to quickly access and track a patient's risk. This tool automatically calculates and displays a risk score within the health record, making it easier for a physician to spot disease progression and take action."

In a study evaluating accuracy, researchers deployed the tool in 10 primary care clinics and 255 patients. Over the course of a year, the tool processed 569,533 continuity of care documents.

"One of the positive things about EHRs is that there is now a wealth of data that can be used to help us better predict an individual's risk, especially for chronic and progressive diseases, like CKD," said Samal. "We have the opportunity to use EHRs to improve patient care- tools like this one can help us seize that opportunity."