Anesthesia & Analgesia: September 2015 – Volume 121 – Issue 3 – p 678–692
Authors: Epstein, Richard H. MD et al
In this review article, we address issues related to using data from anesthesia information management systems (AIMS) to deliver near real-time alerts via AIMS workstation popups and/or alphanumeric pagers and post hoc reports via e-mail. We focus on reports and alerts for influencing the behavior of anesthesia providers (i.e., anesthesiologists, anesthesia residents, and nurse anesthetists). Multiple studies have shown that anesthesia clinical decision support (CDS) improves adherence to protocols and increases financial performance through facilitation of billing, regulatory, and compliance documentation; however, improved clinical outcomes have not been demonstrated. We inform developers and users of feedback systems about the multitude of concerns to consider during development and implementation of CDS to increase its effectiveness and to mitigate its potentially disruptive aspects. We discuss the timing and modalities used to deliver messages, implications of outlier-only versus individualized feedback, the need to consider possible unintended consequences of such feedback, regulations, sustainability, and portability among systems. We discuss statistical issues related to the appropriate evaluation of CDS efficacy. We provide a systematic review of the published literature (indexed in PubMed) of anesthesia CDS and offer 2 case studies of CDS interventions using AIMS data from our own institution illustrating the salient points. Because of the considerable expense and complexity of maintaining near real-time CDS systems, as compared with providing individual reports via e-mail after the fact, we suggest that if the same goal can be accomplished via delayed reporting versus immediate feedback, the former approach is preferable. Nevertheless, some processes require near real-time alerts to produce the desired improvement. Post hoc e-mail reporting from enterprise-wide electronic health record systems is straightforward and can be accomplished using system-independent pathways (e.g., via built-in e-mail support provided by the relational database management system). However, for some of these enterprise-wide systems, near real-time data access, necessary for CDS that generates concurrent alerts, has been challenging to implement.