Penn Medicine uses EHR notifications to boost cancer screening orders

The nudges in reprogrammed electronic health records prompt medical assistants to set up a screening order for doctors to sign once they see the patient. Although early cancer detection can lead to improved outcomes, cancer screening tests are often underused. But a research team at the University of Pennsylvania is using electronic health records to change that.

The Penn Medicine specializing in nudges reprogrammed EHRs to prompt medical assistants to set up a screening order for doctors to sign once they see the patient, which had a positive effect on an increase in screening orders.

However, the results of the study also indicated this type of nudge is a two-step process–first the doc, then the patient.

“There were two surprising findings in this study,” Dr. Mitesh Patel, director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit and an assistant professor of Medicine, as well as the senior author of the study, told Healthcare IT News.

He said the first was how large of an impact these nudges had on clinicians ordering cancer screening, noting there was a 22 percentage point increase in breast cancer screening and 14 percentage point increase in colorectal cancer screen.


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