Submission Type

Case Study


2014 EDM Forum Symposium, Learning Health System, Health Information Technology, Quality Improvement, Standardized Data Collection


Context: Electronic health records (EHRs) have been promoted as a key driver of improved patient care and outcomes and as an essential component of learning health systems. However, to date, many EHRs are not optimized to support delivery of quality and safety initiatives, particularly in Intensive Care Units (ICUs). Delirium is a common and severe problem for ICU patients that may be prevented or mitigated through the use of evidence-based care processes (daily awakening and breathing trials, formal delirium screening, and early mobility—collectively known as the “ABCDE bundle”). This case study describes how an integrated health care delivery system modified its inpatient EHR to accelerate the implementation and evaluation of ABCDE bundle deployment as a safety and quality initiative.

Case Description: In order to facilitate uptake of the ABCDE bundle and measure delivery of the care processes within the bundle, we worked with clinical and technical experts to create structured data fields for documentation of bundle elements and to identify where these fields should be placed within the EHR to streamline staff workflow. We created an “ABCDE” tab in the existing patient viewer that allowed providers to easily identify which components of the bundle the patient had and had not received. We examined the percentage of ABCDE bundle elements captured in these structured data fields over time to track compliance with data entry procedures and to improve documentation of care processes.

Major Themes: Modifying the EHR to support ABCDE bundle deployment was a complex and time-consuming process. We found that it was critical to gain buy-in from senior leadership on the importance of the ABCDE bundle to secure information technology (IT) resources, understand the different workflows of members of multidisciplinary care teams, and obtain continuous feedback from staff on the EHR revisions during the development cycle. We also observed that it was essential to provide ongoing training to staff on proper use of the new EHR documentation fields. Lastly, timely reporting on ABCDE bundle performance may be essential to improved practice adoption and documentation of care processes.

Conclusion: The creation of learning health systems is contingent on an ability to modify EHRs to meet emerging care delivery and quality improvement needs. Although this study focuses on the prevention and mitigation of delirium in ICUs, our process for identifying key data elements and making modifications to the EHR, as well as the lessons learned from the IT components of this program, are generalizable to other health care settings and conditions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.