Monday, September 24, 2018
by Alan Wesley
BJC, WUSM | A new initiative makes it easier for Washington University and BJC physicians to offer opportunities to their patients for clinical trials.
“Busy physicians don’t have time to keep research studies in mind, and the referral process can be daunting,” says Eric Lenze, MD, Washington University psychiatrist.
Dr. Lenze leads the OPTIMUM study, a Washington University School of Medicine study for depression in older adults. OPTIMUM recruits adults 60 and older with treatment-resistant depression, using the Best Practice Advisory (BPA) function of the Epic electronic health record.
The first of its kind
OPTIMUM is the first research study at WUSM to use the BPA to identify research candidates.
According to Dr. Lenze, the BPA uses the patient’s medical records data to determine the patient’s eligibility, and then automatically alerts the physician that the patient may qualify for the OPTIMUM study.
Patients and physicians benefit
“The BPA gives more people an opportunity to improve their depression care by simplifying the referral process for providers during patient visits. The BPA prompts the provider within the patient chart, if the patient is potentially eligible. Then, if the patient gives consent to be contacted, the provider simply clicks a button,” says Dr. Lenze. “Our study team will contact the patient and coordinate the care with the referring provider so that both patient and provider receive support and information from our study staff.”
How does it work?
The OPTIMUM study is conducted with the help of several Washington University and BJC practices, including the BJC Medical Group physicians at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital. “Primary care doctors tell us they have many older adult patients whose depression doesn’t seem to be responding to treatment,” Dr. Lenze says.
Qualifying patients receive expert recommendations for either an add-on medication to take with their current medication, or a switch to a completely different medication. No patient will receive a placebo (a pill with no medicinal benefit).
Patients are monitored closely by the Washington University OPTIMUM team. “We call them every two weeks to check on their symptoms, side effects, and if they are taking their medications correctly,” says Dr. Lenze. “We also provide them with counseling. It’s all about determining which approaches are safest and the most effective.”
The study is ongoing and will continue for three more years. Dr. Lenze says physicians have welcomed the ease with which the BPA referral works, and their patients have been pleased with their experience. And he adds they are looking for more practices to join the study.
According to Christopher Lynch, MD, internal medicine physician with BJC Medical Group at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, the OPTIMUM referral system makes the process easy. “We see a lot of patients and you don’t always have the time to process that there is this great study going on,” he says. “With the BPA, the reminder is always there for you, so I would imagine there are many more enrolled in the study as a result. It was a great idea to incorporate that in the BPA.”
Many of Dr. Lynch’s patients tell him they are pleased with the study. “They say they’re feeling much better and feel confident about the program because it’s led by a psychiatrist and they’re periodically contacted to see how they’re doing. This is a huge service that addresses depression in older patients and keeps the primary physician informed. It ultimately translates into better patient care.”
For information, email email@example.com or call 314-273-7034.
Intake forms for new BPA requests are available on the CTSI website. Note that all new BPAs must go through an approval process through the Epic1 research team.
Tags : Epic, Eric Lenze
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