Computerized Condition-Specific Templates for Improving Care of Geriatric Syndromes in a Primary Care Setting

Published in: Journal of General Internal Medicine, v. 21, no. 9, Sep. 2006, p. 989-994

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2006

by Constance Fung

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INTRODUCTION: As the U.S. population ages, primary care clinicians (PCCs) will encounter more patients with geriatric syndromes, such as urinary incontinence (UI) and falls. Yet, current evidence suggests that care of these conditions does not meet expected standards and that PCCs would benefit from tools to improve care of these conditions. Little is known about the role of computerized condition-specific templates for improving care of geriatric syndromes. AIM: The authors sought to develop and assess the usefulness of condition-specific computerized templates in a primary care setting. SETTING: A large academic Veterans Affairs medical center. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The authors developed and tested the usefulness of 2 condition-specific computerized templates (UI and falls) that could be added on to an existing electronic health record system. PROGRAM EVALUATION: Semistructured interviews were used to identify barriers to use of computerized templates. Usefulness and usability were assessed through a randomized-controlled trial involving standardized patients. DISCUSSION: Use of condition-specific templates resulted in improved history and physical exam assessment for both UI and falls (P<.05). Our computerized, condition-specific templates are a promising method for improving care of geriatric conditions in a primary care setting, but require improvement in usability before widespread implementation.

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