PHILADELPHIA – An electronic medical record alert to primary care physicians that their adult patients with type 2 diabetes were due for an albuminuria and renal-function check boosted screening for chronic kidney disease (CKD) by roughly half compared with the preintervention rate in a single U.S. academic health system.
“Screening rates for CKD more rapidly improved after implementation” of the EMR alert, said Maggy M. Spolnik, MD, at Kidney Week 2023, organized by the American Society of Nephrology.
“There was an immediate and ongoing effect over a year,” said Dr. Spolnik, a nephrologist at Indiana University in Indianapolis.
However, CKD screening rates in the primary care setting remain a challenge. In the study, the EMR alert produced a urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) screening rate of about 26% of patient encounters, she reported. While this was significantly above the roughly 17% rate that had persisted for months before the intervention, it still fell short of the universal annual screening for adults with type 2 diabetes not previously diagnosed with CKD recommended by medical groups such as the American Diabetes Association and the Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes organization. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s assessment in 2012 concluded inadequate information existed at that time to make recommendations about CKD screening, but the group is now revisiting the issue.
‘Albuminuria is an earlier marker’ than eGFR
“Primary care physicians need to regularly monitor albuminuria in adults with type 2 diabetes,” commented Karen A. Griffin, MD, a nephrologist and professor at Loyola University in Maywood, Ill. “By the time you diagnose CKD based on reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), a patient has already lost more than half their renal function. Albuminuria is an earlier marker of a problem,” Dr. Griffin said in an interview.
Primary care physicians have been slow to adopt at least annual checks on both eGFR and the urinary albumin-to-creatinine ratio (UACR) in their adult patients with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Spolnik cited reasons such as the brief 15-minute consultation that primary care physicians have when seeing a patient, and an often confusing ordering menu that gives a UACR test various other names such as tests for microalbuminuria or macroalbuminuria.
To simplify ordering, the EMR prompt assessed in Dr. Spolnik’s study called the test “kidney screening” that automatically bundled an order for both eGFR calculation with UACR measurement. Another limitation is that UACR measurement requires a urine sample, which patients often find inconvenient to provide at the time of their examination.
The study run by Dr. Spolnik involved 10,744 adults with type 2 diabetes without an existing diagnosis of CKD seen in an outpatient, primary care visit to the UVA Health system centered in Charlottesville, Va. during April 2021–April 2022. A total of 23,419 encounters served as usual-care controls. The intervention period with active EMR alerts for kidney screening included 10,204 similar patients seen during April 2022–April 2023 in a total of 20,358 encounters. The patients averaged about 61-62 years old, and about 45% were men.
Bundling alerts into a single pop-up
The primary care clinicians who received the prompts were generally receptive to them, but they asked the researchers to bundle the UACR and eGFR measurement prompts along with any other alerts they received in the EMR into a single on-screen pop-up.
Dr. Spolnik acknowledged the need for further research and refinement to the prompt. For example, she wants to assess prompts for patients identified as having CKD that would promote best-practice management, including lifestyle and medical interventions. She also envisions expanding the prompts to also include other, related disorders such as hypertension.
But she and her colleagues were convinced enough by the results that they have not only continued the program at UVA Health but they also expanded it, starting in October 2023, to the academic primary care practice at Indiana University.
If the Indiana University trial confirms the efficacy seen in Virginia, the next step might be inclusion by Epic of the CKD screening alert as a routine option in the EMR software it distributes to its U.S. clients, Dr. Spolnik said in an interview.
Dr. Spolnik and Dr. Griffin had no disclosures.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
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Publish date : 2023-11-07 15:15:50
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