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Study finds smartphone push-alerts for lab results reduce wait times by 26 minutes

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | June 02, 2017
Cardiology Emergency Medicine Health IT
EHR alerts may become
a thing of the past
Emergency department wait times remain an issue, partly due to slow turnaround times for lab results. A study published Tuesday in Annals of Emergency Medicine found that physicians who received results on their smartphones reduced the time to discharge by 26 minutes.

“For many patients, waiting for lab results that determine if they stay in the hospital or go home is the hardest part of the ER visit,” Dr. Aikta Verma, study author and physician at the University of Toronto in Ontario, said in a statement.

Patients who come to the ED with chest pain undergo a blood test to determine their troponin levels, and elevated levels indicate they’re suffering a heart attack. According to the researchers, the median time from when the physicians received the final troponin results to when they made their discharge decision was about 80 minutes.

They believe that the time from when the lab results are available to when the physician actually reviews them is a potential target for improving efficiency. One approach to shorten this delay is to use smartphone push-alert notifications that send lab results to the physicians’ smartphone instead of the EHR as soon as they are available.

The study included 1,554 patients who were discharged from the ED with chest pain — 551 in the control group and 554 in the intervention group, whose physicians used smartphones to receive results. Verma and her team found that the median time from final results to discharge decision was 94.3 minutes for the control group and 68.5 minutes for the intervention group.

The researchers concluded that the 25.8 minute difference is “statistically significant.” However, they didn’t find the total ED length of stay between the two groups, which differed by 17 minutes, 345 minutes for the controls and 328 for the intervention group, significant.

Verma believes that wait times can be lessened for other results, including radiology reports and vital signs, if they’re sent to physicians’ smartphones. But for now, she only recommends this approach for chest pain patients.

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