Health information technology can improve compliance with patient care guidelines by clinicians in resource-limited countries. This was demonstrated for the first time by a large randomized controlled study. The study was led by Regenstrief Institute investigator Martin Chieng Were, M.D., M.S., assistant professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and Regenstrief Institute affiliated scientist Rachel Vreeman, M.D., M.S, assistant professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine.
The impact of this improved compliance is seen across multiple aspects of patient care, including laboratory testing and referrals. The study found that providing computer-generated reminders to clinicians resulted in a four-fold increase in completion of overdue clinical tasks for children seen in a pediatric HIV clinic in Eldoret, Kenya. The study appears in the March issue of Pediatrics
, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"If a child with HIV does not get the appropriate tests and therapies quickly, he or she can get very sick and may die," Dr. Were said. "In resource-limited settings, health care providers with limited training are trying to provide good care for a high numbers of patients. The computer-generated prompts help them provide high-quality care for so many patients. With the prompts, not only were they four times more likely to follow the HIV care guidelines, but they completed these important clinical tasks faster."
Examples of the overdue clinical tasks that were more likely to be completed when clinicians received computerized reminders were:
- Tests to diagnose HIV in infants.
- Chest X-ray to rule out tuberculosis.
- Recommended laboratory tests for patients, including tests for severity of HIV, and kidney and liver function tests.
- Referral of malnourished children for dietary support.