Providers Turn to EHRs for Help in Tackling Measles Outbreak

Providers Turn to EHRs for Help in Tackling Measles Outbreak

To grapple with the largest measles outbreak in 25 years, providers in the hardest-hit states are using their electronic health records (EHRs) to help protect patients and limit exposure to the virus.

Officials at New York’s Langone Health Network have built a system of alerts into their EHR to warn nurses and physicians that a patient who may have been exposed to measles is scheduled for an office visit. Patients living within certain zip codes are flagged in the EHR. For New Yorkers, the two at-risk populations are Rockland County and Brooklyn, Reuters reports. The alerts are designed to prompt providers to discuss a patient’s vaccination history, their current health status, and check for possible exposure likelihood.

Sutter Health in Northern California worked with its EHR vendor to implement screening questionnaires about potential measles risk for every patient who schedules an appointment online through their portal. It asks questions about symptoms such as cough, runny nose, or fever before they develop the tell-tale rash to help identify cases of early transmission, according to Reuters.

“If a person has a fever plus one of those symptoms, or a rash, they have to answer the next question, which is, ‘Have you been outside of the United States in the last three weeks or been exposed to anybody with measles?’” Dr. Jeffrey Silvers, Sutter Health’s medical director of infectious diseases, told Reuters.

Mary Butler is associate editor at Journal of AHIMA.