Kaiser Permanente achieves 22% reduction in antibiotic use with EHR alerts

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Digital alerts helped physicians at 126 Kaiser Permanente locations in Southern California reduce antibiotic prescriptions for sinusitis, according to a study published in The American Journal of Managed Care.

From September 2014 through April 2015, researchers conducted an analysis of 21,949 initial acute sinusitis encounters in adults at primary and urgent care settings, with 10,491 of the encounters occurring before the implementation of the alert intervention. The alert appeared on the EHR to notify physicians when antibiotic prescribing may not be the best course of treatment. Analysis revealed a 22 percent reduction in antibiotic use after the intervention.

"[H]ealth systems are discovering that stopping a common behavior, like prescribing antibiotics, can be even more difficult than spreading the use of a new test or treatment," said Adam Sharp, MD, an emergency department physician at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and the study's lead author. "Our research builds on research conducted at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the [CDC] and studies being conducted around the country to better understand how to limit routine use of unwarranted antibiotics."

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