Systematically Improving Tobacco Cessation Patient Services Through Electronic Medical Record Integration

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Abstract

The Health Information Act of 2010 has presented an opportunity to discuss, establish, and promote innovative ways to incorporate tobacco cessation assistance to patients in the health care setting. This article provides an overview of the development and implementation of an electronic tobacco cessation protocol (the eTobacco protocol), into an electronic medical record (EMR) system, while evaluating the barriers and benefits encountered. The protocol was developed to facilitate the process of electronically referring patients to a state-funded quitline service by establishing a one-click connect for providers to use within the EMR system. While evaluating the implementation of the protocol, findings indicate that several barriers were encountered including disruption of clinic workflow, EMR limitations, and training complications. In spite of the barriers, the protocol shows promising results by increasing referrals to the quitline from 7 patients the year prior to implementation to 1,254 patients after the implementation of the electronic solution. Health care systems that have the ability to modify their EMR system can help lower tobacco use rates among their patients while meeting Meaningful Use requirements. Future research should examine if referrals through the eTobacco protocol are directly associated with patients’ tobacco cessation rates.

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