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Finding advance directives in an EHR

July 23, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Electronic health records (EHRs) are growing in use within long-term care (LTC), but they often lack a central place to store one of LTC's most important documents: the advanced care directive.

A presentation at the recent American Geriatrics Society's (AGS') annual meeting discussed the difficulty most healthcare providers have in locating a person's advance directive within an EHR.

Vivyenne Roche, MD, program director in the Geriatrics Fellowship Program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, studied 100 random samples of primary care patient charts, according to coverage of the meeting by the Annals of Long-Term Care. Roche discovered that advanced directives were stored in seven different locations within the single EHR used by the medical center and that it could take more than 12 steps and an average of 4.3 minutes to locate this information within a person's health record.

To solve this problem, Roche and her colleagues implemented an "advance directives navigator," which allowed caregivers to locate the advanced directive in the center's EHR using only two steps and taking only a few seconds.

The research and navigator tool idea, presented at the AGS meeting, could serve as animportant springboard for LTC EHR vendors to simplify the capture, storage and retrieval of advance directives within EHR systems designed for LTC.

To read more about the tool and read an interview with Roche, see the meeting coverage in Annals.

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