EMR Helps Clinicians Screen, Treat Patients at Risk of Opioid Misuse
Candace Stuart – Director, Communications & Public Relations
When the Substance Use Intervention Team (SUIT) at Rush University Medical Center wanted to add two questions to the list that nursing and social work staff asked patients receiving inpatient care, they knew they had to tread carefully. The questions were brief queries about misusing alcohol or drugs in the past year for a new screening and treatment program. But they were two questions on top of more than 170 existing items for nursing, and yet one more in a litany of tasks for social work. How to ensure that these two questions wouldn’t get skipped, and if they were, where to correct the omission?
Working with an interdisciplinary group that included clinicians and IT specialists, they found a readily available tool: the electronic medical record. The EMR allowed the SUIT team to add the questions into nursing and social work workflows and design discipline-specific columns to flag if the task was completed. If a patient answered “yes,” the social worker had the option to recommend a consult, which then was transmitted to addiction medicine or the SUIT team.
The EMR tool extended from Rush’s inpatient to outpatient setting, ensuring parity in the data collected in the outpatient Addiction Medicine Clinic and the inpatient intervention. It also assisted in administrative functions, including a report that was sent monthly to the Illinois Department of Human Services, which awarded Rush a $380,000 grant to support the program.
At noon ET on Dec. 12, two members of SUIT will conduct a College LIVE webinar to discuss how they used the EMR to launch and maintain SUIT, a comprehensive screening and treatment program launched in 2017 to assist patients who struggle with substance use disorders. The webinar, which is hosted by CHIME and the CHIME Opioid Task Force, is free and open to the public.
“The EMR is definitely a facilitator for communications across disciplines,” said Kristin Hill, a practice administrator in Rush’s Population Behavioral Health Section and SUIT’s liaison with Rush’s healthcare IT department. “It helps us with our reporting to the state. It also helps with universal screening. Everyone gets asked, regardless of why they get admitted. That helps us to try to saturate everybody and ask people who otherwise may have never been asked.”
So far Rush has screened more than 30,000 patients. In addition to IT tools, the SUIT team has developed interview training and education programs to help clinicians identify and treat at-risk patients. SUIT was so successful in its first year that the state renewed the grant, whose funding comes from an opioid initiative funded under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Niranjan Karnik, MD, PhD, associate dean for community behavioral health, psychiatry professor and vice chair of innovation in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush Medical Center, will join Hill as webinar presenters. This is the fourth educational webinar presented through CHIME and the CHIME Opioid Task Force. Members and non-members can register for their presentation, “Rush Substance Use Intervention (SUIT): Raising Awareness for Better Care,” here. Members will receive one CEU for attending.