May 28

Integrating medical calculators into the EHR

5/28/14 | Create Innovations, Featured Posts, Newsroom

When it comes to clinical decision support systems (CDSS) and clinical calculators, there are a lot of choices. A quick Google search for medical calculators or algorithms returns dozens of results, including MDCalc, MedCalc3000 and The Medical Algorithms Project, to name a few. These tools provide insight into a myriad of medical problems through calculations or decision trees. For instance, you can find a calculator that will give you the Apgar score for assessing the health of newborns, or tell you the risk for hospitalization due to asthma within the next year.

These tools can be an invaluable asset to care providers, and are based on scientific studies. These studies form the foundation of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Providers practicing EBM need to be able to quickly find and apply validated external evidence to support clinical decision making.

While it seems intuitive that clinical calculators and other CDSS would improve provider performance, this has actually been borne out in clinical trials. So, is it enough to throw a web link into PowerChart and call it good? Not so fast. As studies have shown, these systems have to be available, but for maximum effectiveness, they have to be integrated.


A MedCalc3000 medical calculator integrated into PowerChart.

A MedCalc3000 medical calculator integrated into PowerChart.

Recognizing this need, a physician-focused team at Cerner comprised of associates from the Physician ABU and Physician Experience groups began working on an integrated medical calculator solution. Partnering with MedCalc3000, this new solution provides all Cerner clients access to over 600 medical calculators, clinical criteria and decision trees—free of charge. All of this functionality is generally available and fully integrated into PowerChart as an MPage. Working alongside the Physician Experience team, the Tiger Institute InnovATE team worked tirelessly to develop a deeper level of integration, starting with 16 specific calculators. Focusing on the integration of discrete data transfer, the InnovATE team is paving the way for future developments within EBM.

Tim Green is manager of the Innovation at the Edge development team with the Tiger Institute, and a PhD student in Health Informatics at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has 20 years of IT and management experience in the health care, education, and ecommerce industries.

Cross posted from the blog.