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Genomic Data EHR Integration Cuts Clinician Time to Order Test by 75%

As providers increasingly strive to deliver patient-centered care, EHR integration of genomic data could help providers save time and mitigate burnout.

EHR integration of genomic data resulted in significant time savings for clinicians, according to a study in Genetics in Medicine.  

Testing a patient’s genomic information can be useful for several conditions, ranging from determining the risk of breast cancer to providing insight into which medications may work best. However, genomic testing includes a wide swath of data and can be difficult to gather.

In 2019, Penn Medicine’s Information Services team and various clinical and research departments created the PennChart Genomics Initiative to make ordering and using genomics data easier.

The team organized all genetic testing information into a single tab in the EHR and made it “communicate” with outside entities that perform testing.

Now, instead of having to leave the EHR, genetic counselors and other clinicians can directly order testing through the EHR. Then, results return to the EHR so clinicians can immediately use the data.

The Penn researchers found that when clinicians had to go outside the EHR to order a genomics test, it took them an average of eight minutes. With EHR integration of genomic data, providers could order a genomics test in two minutes—a 75 percent time savings.

Similarly, clinicians who managed results outside the EHR averaged five minutes, while clinicians managing results directly in the EHR spent a minute on average.

“We know that there are many medical conditions where genetic testing would potentially change medical management of the patient,” said Marylyn Ritchie, PhD, director of the Institute for Biomedical Informatics and a study co-author. “By making it easier to order the test and understand the results, we are improving care for our patients and reducing the burden on providers.”

As providers increasingly strive to deliver patient-centered care, the workload for ordering and consulting genetic data is set to increase. EHR integration of genomic data could help providers save time and mitigate burnout.

“Genetic counselors order testing on multiple patients every day,” Katherine Nathanson, MD, the study’s lead author, said in a press release. “So if you order tests on three patients per day and return results on three patients per day – which is a very reasonable estimate– that means you save 45 minutes per day, based on what we saw. That is a big deal.”

“We plan to further streamline the process so that genetic counselors can work to the top of their scope of practice,” said Nathanson, who serves as deputy director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and the Pearl Basser Professor of BRCA-Related Research.

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