Objectives To measure the time taken to recall and treat patients with untreated Chlamydia attending a sexual-health clinic before and after the introduction of electronic patient records (EPR).
Methods 52 consecutive qualifying patients were identified for January to March 2007 (paper case records) and 2009 (EPR). For each, the patient time intervals were measured between each of following dates: first attendance, first positive result received, first attempted patient contact and attendance for treatment.
Results Between 2007 and 2009, the median time taken to treat a patient after receipt of a positive Chlamydia result fell by 11.5 days (median 15 days in 2007, 3.5 days in 2009). The time between first attendance and treatment was reduced by 9.5 days (median 21 days in 2007, 11.5 days in 2009) despite results taking 2 days longer to arrive in 2009. The proportion of patients treated within 2 weeks of a positive result rose from 38% in 2007 to 94% in 2009. Compared with paper notes, EPR decreased the time to recall, by eliminating three time-delaying patient recall processes. By ensuring more accurate patient recall information, EPR also lead to a higher proportion of patients successfully recalled by telephone (26/44, 59% vs 46/52, 88% in 2007 and 2009 respectively), leading to earlier treatment.
Conclusions The ‘time to treat’ interval was dramatically reduced following the introduction of EPR. Clinics using paper notes should consider switching to EPR as a means of improving STI recall efficiency.
- electronic patient records
- electronic case records
- C trachomatis
- health services research
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Competing interests GB has performed training and lecturing on the use of EPR for Blithe Computer Systems Ltd in return for educational donations to the clinic.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.