Conference Coverage

EHRs have no impact on inpatient heart failure clinical choices or outcomes



No differences seen in discharge meds

There was essentially no difference between groups in the rates at which patients were discharged on beta-blockers, renin-angiotensin system inhibitors, sodium-glucose co-transporter type 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, or mineralocorticoid antagonists.

When prespecified subgroups, such as those older than age 75 years relative to those younger, males relative to females, Black versus White participants, patients with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) relative to preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), and intensive care unit versus non-ICU patients, were compared, there were no indications that the EHR alert improved outcomes.

Invited discussant Harriette G. C. Van Spall, MD, director of digital health and virtual care and associate professor of cardiology at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., did not dispute the conclusions, but she pointed out several potential explanations for the neutral result.

Dr. Harriette G.C. Van Spall, principal investigator at the Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton, Ont., and assistant professor in cardiology at McMaster University in Hamilton

Dr. Harriette G.C. Van Spall

Not least, nearly 75% of those enrolled had low risk or very low risk for adverse outcomes within 1 year, so the opportunity to show a reduction in events, including all-cause mortality, was limited.

“This was largely a HFpEF population, for which there are no treatments for which a risk score would change therapy,” she said.

EHR alert efficacy questioned

There is considerable evidence that risk prediction tools “are common but underutilized in HF,” Dr. Van Spall added. She noted that many clinicians find alerts in the EHR more annoying than informative, and it remains unknown what proportion of clinicians pay attention to them, particularly in the absence of evidence that they lead to meaningful improvements in care over their own clinical judgment.

Dr. Ahmad agreed.

“I think that we need to study these alerts in a clinical trial format,” he said. Acknowledging that alerts have been poorly received by many clinicians, Dr. Ahmad said that trials to validate the impact of any specific alert are needed to improve their credibility. If a positive impact cannot be shown, he said the alert should be eliminated, leaving only the alerts with proven clinical value.

Dr. Ahmad reported financial relationships with Amgen, AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Cytokinetics, Novartis, and Relypsa. Dr. Van Spall reports no potential conflicts of interest.


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