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Electronic Detection of Delayed Test Result Follow-Up in Patients with Hypothyroidism.
Meyer AND, Murphy DR, Al-Mutairi A, Sittig DF, Wei L, Russo E, Singh H. Electronic Detection of Delayed Test Result Follow-Up in Patients with Hypothyroidism. Journal of general internal medicine. 2017 Jul 1; 32(7):753-759.
Delays in following up abnormal test results are a common problem in outpatient settings. Surveillance systems that use trigger tools to identify delayed follow-up can help reduce missed opportunities in care.
To develop and test an electronic health record (EHR)-based trigger algorithm to identify instances of delayed follow-up of abnormal thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) results in patients being treated for hypothyroidism.
We developed an algorithm using structured EHR data to identify patients with hypothyroidism who had delayed follow-up ( > 60 days) after an abnormal TSH. We then retrospectively applied the algorithm to a large EHR data warehouse within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), on patient records from two large VA networks for the period from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2011. Identified records were reviewed to confirm the presence of delays in follow-up.
During the study period, 645,555 patients were seen in the outpatient setting within the two networks. Of 293,554 patients with at least one TSH test result, the trigger identified 1250 patients on treatment for hypothyroidism with elevated TSH. Of these patients, 271 were flagged as potentially having delayed follow-up of their test result. Chart reviews confirmed delays in 163 of the 271 flagged patients (PPV? = 60.1%).
An automated trigger algorithm applied to records in a large EHR data warehouse identified patients with hypothyroidism with potential delays in thyroid function test results follow-up. Future prospective application of the TSH trigger algorithm can be used by clinical teams as a surveillance and quality improvement technique to monitor and improve follow-up.