Experts Meet at Epic to Expand EHR System to Help Smokers Quit

A group of experts from around the country met at Epic Systems headquarters in Verona, Wisconsin last week to discuss plans to better design electronic health records (EHR) technology to help healthcare professionals help their patients quit smoking. UW-CTRI is partnering with Epic, the world’s largest EHR vendor, to incorporate this new tobacco-treatment system into its standard EHR. The system will be first piloted in the EHR at Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC).

UW-CTRI and Epic have partnered before, but in the past it involved an electronic referral to the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line. In this project, they’ll work on a closed-loop, HIPAA-compliant referral from EHR to the Quit Line and, a national site that offers a bevy of cessation resources including online chatting with a quit coach and texting to quit.

This EHR system will also prompt the healthcare team to complete the 5 A’s at every patient visit: Ask about tobacco use; Advise the patient to quit; Assess readiness to quit; Assist with a quit attempt, and Arrange for follow-up.

At the meeting last week, experts discussed goals to make the EHR product something that is applicable and ready to use in any health system. In part, this means making it work in all iterations of Epic EHR, and also keeping the language applicable to various healthcare models that might have different professionals interacting with patients (e.g., for some systems it might be a medical assistant, others a nurse or a behavioral-health care manager, etc.). They agreed the key is to build something that will be used–and that means making it practical by not burdening a physician, not making it too cumbersome for roomers or too expensive to implement.

The project is made possible by a 7-year, $6.1 million R35 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) called the Outstanding Investigator Award (OIA), given to UW-CTRI Director Dr. Michael Fiore. The OIA allows funded investigators the flexibility to embark on long-term, transformative projects of unusual potential in cancer research; the opportunity to take greater risks and be more adventurous in their lines of inquiry; and sufficient time to develop new techniques.

UW-CTRI Outreach Director Rob Adsit, who works with Epic on several projects involving EHR, has been integral to establishing the partnership, and UW-CTRI Research Director Tim Baker joined Dr. Fiore in writing the grant application.

For more on EHR & Tobacco, click here.