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July 22, 1996

Computer Reminders to Implement Preventive Care Guidelines for Hospitalized Patients

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, and the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care (Drs Overhage, Tierney, and McDonald) and the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Dr Tierney), Indianapolis.

Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(14):1551-1556. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440130095010

Background:  Hospitalizations are an opportunity to provide preventive care.

Objective:  To determine if computer reminders, which we have shown to be effective in our ambulatory care setting, increase the provision of inpatient preventive care.

Methods:  Randomized, controlled trial on the general medicine inpatient service of an urban, university-affiliated public hospital. Study subjects were 78 house staff rotating on the 6 general medicine services. The intervention was reminders to physicians printed on daily rounds reports about preventive care for which their patients were eligible, and suggested orders for preventive care provided through the physicians' workstations. The preventive care guidelines were derived from the US Preventive Care Task Force recommendations. Compliance with preventive care guidelines and house staff attitudes toward providing preventive care to hospitalized patients were the main outcome measures.

Results:  No significant differences were seen between intervention and control physicians in compliance with preventive care guidelines in the aggregate or when individual preventive care actions were analyzed. This was true even though most physicians endorsed providing most kinds of preventive care for hospitalized patients.

Conclusions:  Despite past success in increasing preventive care in the outpatient setting, we were unable, using a moderately intensive intervention, to increase the provision of preventive care during hospitalizations. The physicians providing care during the hospitalization were not the patients' primary care physicians, which proved to be an important barrier. More intensive interventions, or more direct linkages between inpatient and outpatient care providers, may be required to overcome this resistance.Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:1551-1556

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