Researchers use EHRs to identify hypertension among safety-net patients

A team of researchers successfully programmed clinical decision support systems in EHRs to flag safety-net patients at risk of hypertension, according to a study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

The researchers — led by Margaret Meador, director of clinical integration and education at the National Association of Community Health Centers in Bethesda, Md. — programmed clinical decision support algorithms related to hypertension into EHRs. The algorithms would identify patients with multiple elevated blood pressure readings to flag potentially undiagnosed hypertension.

The researchers deployed the algorithms at 10 safety-net health centers in Arkansas, California, Kentucky and Missouri. After implementing the clinical decision support intervention, hypertension diagnoses increased from 34.5 percent to 36.7 percent across the health centers. Of the patients flagged by the CDS system, 65.2 percent completed a follow-up evaluation, 31.9 percent of which were diagnosed with hypertension.

"Using algorithmic logic and other CDS-enabled care process improvements appears to be an effective way health centers can identify and engage patients at risk for undiagnosed hypertension," the study authors concluded.

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