We sought to implement validated alcohol and drug use screening tools into the Electronic
Health Record (EHR) without the aid of specialized information technology (IT) support.
Material and methods
Since October of 2012, when our outpatient clinic transitioned to an EHR, we implemented
the AUDIT and DAST-10 questionnaires as Epic® SmartPhrases.
A high score on either questionnaire prompts a "brief intervention" (BI), which includes
offering the patient a printed brochure. To our SmartPhrases, we added hyperlinks
(to http://www.sbirtonline.org and http://www.drugabuse.gov) to make pertinent brochures
To "charge capture" and retrieve BIs, we used the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)
codes for alcohol and drug counseling.
Of 155 randomly selected patient encounters prior to using the EHR, there were no
encounters with a validated alcohol use screening instrument, and in only 1 encounter
(0.6 %) was there a valid BI. After transitioning to the EHR and educating residents,
43 of 97 (44.3%, p < 0.05) randomly selected patient encounters included a validated
alcohol use screening instrument, but only 4 of 97 (4.1%) contained evidence of a
BI. Over time, with continued training, including conferences and reminders from attending
physician "champions," residents performed more BIs. For the year April 2014 through
March 2015, documented BIs averaged 11 per month (1.3% of total monthly patient encounters).
Though the resulting workaround process may not be "seamless," EHR users can independently
implement validated screening questionnaires. With proper IT expertise, Best Practice
Advisory/Health Maintenance Reminder (BPA/HMR) "pop-ups" can increase the automaticity
of screening, enforce the necessity of screening, and minimize the chances of "losing"
documentation of screening (such as when residents fail to "charge capture.") The
BPA/HMR method, with automatic periodic reminders which the provider must address
- in perpetuity - before moving to the next step in encounter documentation, should
aid sustainability of alcohol and drug use screening and intervention programs.