As electronic health records (EHRs) become widely adopted, alerts and reminders can improve medication safety, but excessive alerts may irritate or overwhelm clinicians, thereby reducing their effectiveness. We developed a novel “stealth” alert in an EHR to improve anticoagulation monitoring for patients prescribed a medication that could interact with warfarin. Instead of alerting the prescribing provider, the system notified a multidisciplinary anticoagulation management service, so that the prescribing clinicians never saw the alerts. We aimed to determine whether these “stealth” alerts increased the frequency of anticoagulation monitoring following the co-prescription of warfarin and a potentially interacting medication.
We conducted a pre-post intervention study, analyzed using an interrupted time-series, within a large, multispecialty group practice that uses a common EHR. The study included a 12-month period preceding the intervention, a 2-month period during intervention implementation, and a 6-month post-intervention period. The primary outcome measure was the proportion of patients completing anticoagulation monitoring within 5 days of a new co-prescribing event.
Prior to implementation of the stealth alert, 34 % of patients completed anticoagulation monitoring within 5 days after the prescription of a medication with a potential warfarin interaction. After implementation of the alert, 39 % completed testing within 5 days (odds ratio 1.24, 95 % confidence interval 1.12–1.37).
Stealth alerts increased the proportion of patients who underwent anticoagulation monitoring following the prescription of a medication that could potentially interact with warfarin. This team-based approach to clinical-decision support directs alerts away from prescribing clinicians and toward individuals who can directly implement them.
Koplan KE, Brush AD, Packer MS, Zhang F, Senese MD, Simon SR. “Stealth” Alerts to Improve Warfarin Monitoring When Initiating Interacting Medications. J Gen Intern Med [Internet]. 2012 Jul 30;Online First. Available from: http://www.springerlink.com/content/j2l8476t45112513/abstract/