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Abstract

Objective

To design a rheumatology-specific tool with a disease activity calculator integrated into the electronic medical records (EMRs) at our institution and assess physicians' attitudes toward the use of this tool.

Methods

The Rheumatology OnCall (ROC) application culls rheumatology-pertinent data from our institution's laboratory, microbiology, pathology, radiology, and pharmacy information systems. Attending rheumatologists and rheumatology fellows accessed the ROC and disease activity calculator during outpatient visits at the time of the clinical encounter.

Results

During the 12-week study period, 15 physicians used the ROC application and the disease activity calculator during 474 and 429 outpatient clinic visits, respectively. In weekly survey responses, physicians reported that use of the ROC interface improved patient care in 140 (78%) of 179 visits, and that the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28) results at the time of the visit would not have changed patient management in 157 (88%) of these, although seeing a trend in DAS28 was useful in 149 (96%) of 156 visits. At the study's conclusion, most physicians reported that the ROC application was useful (11 of 12 physicians) and that seeing a trend in DAS28 improved daily patient care (12 of 13 physicians).

Conclusion

The ROC application is useful in daily rheumatologic care, and the disease activity calculator facilitates management of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, widespread acceptance and use of such tools depend upon the general acceptance of and access to EMRs in the clinical setting. The utility of the disease activity calculator may be limited by the lack of available acute-phase reactant results at the time of the clinical encounter.