Mike Restuccia and his team at Penn Medicine have taken their EHR system a step beyond the ordinary, marrying it to clinical research trials. When recruiting patients for trials, medical researchers typically use billboards, newspaper ads, and sometimes social media to get the word out. But those methods often don't attract enough of the right patients.
Penn Medicine, which consists of the University of Pennsylvania's Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine and health system, uses the trove of data in its EHRs to find clinical trial candidates and then alert their doctors. Penn uses a feature of the EpicCare EMR called Research Trial Advisory to do this.
Doctors working from offices and clinics outside the hospital provide 85% to 95% of patient care, Restuccia said, and as a result, they have an ongoing, trusted relationship with patients and are better positioned to recruit them for clinical trials. Once researchers identify the candidate criteria for a trial--which includes diagnosis, gender, age, lab results, and medication--an alert is embedded in the ambulatory EHR of patients that match the criteria. Doctors of those patients get a message on their EHR screens encouraging them to discuss the trial with the candidate.
Penn Medicine has eight studies now using the Penn Research Trial Advisory. And the fact that researchers have come forward to request that their clinical trial recruitment characteristics be embedded within the EMR suggests the tool is having an impact.
The clinical trial tool wouldn't have been possible without Penn having deployed an Epic ambulatory EHR system for the more than 1,800 physicians employed in the healthcare system. That's no small feat when you consider that many major health organizations have yet to get all their docs on one common system.
Penn's ambulatory system is integrated with its inpatient Allscripts Sunrise Clinical Manager, letting clinicians seamlessly share patient data, and its IT and clinical leaders introduce common processes, workflow adjustments, and best practices across the healthcare system with relative ease.