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Improving Public Health with EHRs

  • Toby C. Samo, MD, FACP
  • 10/31/2012

Often when we talk about the benefits of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), the focus is on bettering individual patient outcomes. Increasingly, however, stakeholders have been paying increasing attention to the potential benefits EHRs can offer when dealing with public health issues. That’s why Allscripts is taking two important steps to help our clients manage the recent rash of fungal meningitis infections related to tainted steroid injectables.

The Center for Disease Control posted a list of facilities known to have received the tainted medications. First, Allscripts is comparing this list against our database of clients.  We will be contacting these clients to provide any assistance they might need to identify the individual patients that received intra-spinal steroid injections since May to determine if they are at risk of infection. This proactive step can offer critical benefit to the affected patients, as fungal meningitis can take weeks to cause the patient to experience symptoms.

Second, Allscripts is preparing a free Medical Logic Module (MLM) for clients using Allscripts Sunrise Clinical Manager specifically responsive to this public health need. The MLM notifies the provider in the Emergency Department if a patient has complaints documented in the Triage Note that might be consistent with these infections. Specifically, the notification reminds the provider to consider fungal infection as the cause of the patient’s problems.

EHRs provide all types of benefits to not only providers and patients individually but in also helping manage this type of public health issue in a proactive manner. We have clients who’ve used similar processes in the past to head off meningitis outbreaks in their community and identify possible e coli sufferers. Allscripts provided similar support with the recent H1N1 outbreak and will continue to do so when needed in the future to help protect the patients’ health.

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About the author

As Allscripts Chief Medical Officer, International, Toby helps establish long-term clinical strategy and short-term priorities for Allscripts solutions. Additionally, he is responsible for executive-level and physician sales support. He is also the single point of accountability for customer experience, business performance and solutions roadmap and the forward looking strategy of the clinical solutions for International Markets. He is also the Patient Safety Officer for Allscripts. Previously, Toby was Medical Director of Information Technology at The Methodist Hospital (Houston, TX), a long-time Allscripts client, and Vice President of Medical Informatics at Physia Corporation. Prior to these positions, Toby has had a long career in private practice as an Infectious Disease physician.

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