Mayo Clinic uses 'ambient intelligence' to find actionable EHR data in ICUs: 5 things to know

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic rolled out an application to flag actionable data for clinicians working in intensive care units, three of the health system's physicians wrote in an article for Harvard Business Review.

EHRs contain a variety of important medical data, including diagnoses, observations, treatments and lab results. However, when treating critical care patients, this information can become overwhelming for physicians. To combat this challenge, Mayo Clinic assembled a team to integrate "ambient intelligence" into clinical workflows.

Ambient intelligence, according to the authors, is a "set of decision-making tools powered by data on and insights into clinicians' goals, work environments, strengths and performance constraints." The goal of the program was to create a tool that delivers the right information to the right clinicians at the patient's bedside.

Here are five things to know about Mayo Clinic's ambient intelligence application.

1. The team built an EHR interface for clinicians in the ICU, called Ambient Warning and Response Evaluation, or AWARE. The application offers a real-time overview of every ICU in the Mayo Clinic system, including representations of each patient with notes on required tests, scans and procedures, to inform clinicians' decision-making.

2. The AWARE application notifies clinicians of potential omissions after analyzing the patient's condition. For example, the feature "Sepsis Dart" monitors patients in ICUs to determine whether a physician is implementing timely and accurate best practices for diagnosing and treating sepsis.

3. To create the application, Mayo Clinic assembled a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers to design clinical informatics tools. The team identified ICU clinicians with a "very high mental, or cognitive, workload who continuously have to filter important information out of the cluttered environment," according to the authors, and conducted 1,500 interviews during a two-year period.

4. The clinical informatics team applied insights from these interviews to determine roughly 60 pieces of patient information that proved "crucial" for patient care. These 60 items were selected from tens of thousands of pieces of data that came through the EHR, according to Harvard Business Review. The most important information included vital signs, alongside observations such as cough strength.

5. Mayo Clinic deployed AWARE in its Rochester, Minn.-based ICUs in 2012, and expanded the application to its Phoenix, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Jacksonville, Fla., campuses in 2014. Since then, officials at the health system have determined the application saves clinicians three to five minutes on chart review per patient each day, along with improving patient outcomes in the ICU.

To access Harvard Business Review's article, click here.

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