Use of an automated clinical management system improves outpatient immunosuppressive care following liver transplantation

University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA.
Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (Impact Factor: 3.5). 07/2010; 17(4):396-402. DOI: 10.1136/jamia.2009.000992
Source: PubMed


Immunosuppressive therapy following transplantation, if not managed well, can lead to increased drug toxicity or rejection episodes. We investigated whether use of an automated clinical management system in our liver transplant program would improve clinical outcomes in managing transplant recipients' immunosuppressive medications.
We performed a retrospective cohort study of two patient groups receiving liver transplants at our institution. One group of 301 patients transplanted from January 1, 2004 to November 30, 2006 received outpatient immunosuppressive management using a paper charting system. After instituting an automated clinical management system, the following group of 127 patients transplanted from December 12, 2006 to April 1, 2008 received their outpatient immunosuppressive management with that system. Only patients who received tacrolimus therapy, with or without mycophenolate mofetil or prednisone, were studied.
Our endpoints included percentage of patients having rejection and/or tacrolimus toxicity episodes. Various recipient, intraoperative, donor, and postoperative variables, including managing the immunosuppressive therapy with a paper charting system or an automated management system, were studied to determine which factors were associated with our endpoints.
Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed the automated system was significantly associated with fewer rejection episodes and fewer tacrolimus toxicity events. Formal cost-effectiveness analysis of the nurses' salaries for 1 year showed the automated system cost US$197 per patient and the paper system cost US$1703 per patient. The automated system improved quality of life years.
Use of an automated clinical management system for outpatient immunosuppressive management for liver transplant patients has resulted in a decrease in both tacrolimus toxicity and rejection episodes and is cost-effective.

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    ABSTRACT: Following liver transplantation, patients require lifelong immunosuppressive care and monitoring. Computerized clinical decision support (CDS) has been shown to improve post-transplant immunosuppressive care processes and outcomes. The readiness of transplant information systems to implement computerized CDS to support post-transplant care is unknown. a) Describe the current clinical information system functionality and manual and automated processes for laboratory monitoring of immunosuppressive care, b) describe the use of guidelines that may be used to produce computable logic and the use of computerized alerts to support guideline adherence, and c) explore barriers to implementation of CDS in U.S. liver transplant centers. We developed a web-based survey using cognitive interviewing techniques. We surveyed 119 U.S. transplant programs that performed at least five liver transplantations per year during 2010-2012. Responses were summarized using descriptive analyses; barriers were identified using qualitative methods. Respondents from 80 programs (67% response rate) completed the survey. While 98% of programs reported having an electronic health record (EHR), all programs used paper-based manual processes to receive or track immunosuppressive laboratory results. Most programs (85%) reported that 30% or more of their patients used external laboratories for routine testing. Few programs (19%) received most external laboratory results as discrete data via electronic interfaces while most (80%) manually entered laboratory results into the EHR; less than half (42%) could integrate internal and external laboratory results. Nearly all programs had guidelines regarding pre-specified target ranges (92%) or testing schedules (97%) for managing immunosuppressive care. Few programs used computerized alerting to notify transplant coordinators of out-of-range (27%) or overdue laboratory results (20%). Use of EHRs is common, yet all liver transplant programs were largely dependent on manual paper-based processes to monitor immunosuppression for post-liver transplant patients. Similar immunosuppression guidelines provide opportunities for sharing CDS once integrated laboratory data are available.
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