Helping Doctors Test More Effectively
It’s a formidable challenge for physicians to keep up to date on the vast quantity of constantly emerging medical knowledge. According to some estimates, new medical information is emerging so quickly and continuously that doctors would have to read well over a dozen medical journal articles every day just to keep up with the latest information in their particular practice areas.
One area of medicine in which this task is particularly challenging is laboratory testing.
Thousands of medical laboratory tests are commercially available today. These tests are constantly changing and new tests are continually coming to market. This makes it difficult if not impossible for doctors to keep up on all of the changes in laboratory testing.
To help doctors order and interpret lab tests more effectively, ARUP Laboratories, a national clinical and anatomic pathology reference laboratory and an enterprise of the University of Utah and its Department of Pathology, created ARUP Consult®, The Physician's Guide to Laboratory Test Selection and Interpretation. ARUP Consult, is an online resource that offers healthcare providers no-cost access to current laboratory testing information as well as concise diagnostic advice regarding test selection and interpretation for nearly 2,000 laboratory tests. The tests are organized by disease categories. For each disease, ARUP Consult provides clinical background information, test ordering indications, recommended uses and limitations, as well as direct links to national guidelines and relevant references. It also provides algorithms, again organized by disease, to support clinical decision-making.
The content for ARUP Consult is compiled and drafted by a highly regarded and credentialed team of subject matter experts drawn from the University of Utah’s Department of Pathology and ARUP Laboratories’ medical directors as well as a current practicing clinicians. Content is regularly reviewed and revised by these experts in response to new knowledge in the field.
“We have a lot of internal research that indicates tests are not always utilized correctly,” explains Brian R. Jackson, M.D., M.S., medical director of Informatics at ARUP Laboratories. “Based on that research, we realized that doctors need a lot of information about lab tests to make sure the tests are not over, under, or misutilized.”
Testing Information Needed at the Point of Care
ARUP Consult was originally developed for the Web, thereby making it available to any healthcare provider with a PC and an Internet connection.
“We considered producing a printed version of the guide,” explains Andrew Olson, product manager for ARUP Consult. “We recognized, though, that because information goes out of date so quickly we needed to have a more dynamic delivery mechanism. We update our content about every eight weeks, so a printed guide would obsolesce very rapidly.”
“Once the Web version was developed and up and running, we felt it was important to provide doctors with access to ARUP Consult via their PDAs or other mobile devices at the point of care, even in the absence of a live Internet connection,” adds Olson. “We wanted to publish our information to our Web site and simultaneously make it available to mobile users.”
Only M-Business Anywhere Meets ARUP Requirements
ARUP evaluated a number of vendors and technologies that could enable it to extend ARUP Consult to mobile users. The company faced an aggressive implementation schedule, which ruled out custom development. “What we wanted,” says Olson “was an information delivery platform that we could implement rapidly and that would allow us to focus on our content rather than the technology. We wanted our content developers to be able to use their existing skill sets. We also needed a solution that would handle compatibility issues across a diverse array of mobile devices as well as managing the synchronization process between our content management system and users’ devices. M-Business Anywhere emerged from our evaluation process as the only solution that met all of our requirements.”
M-Business Anywhere Enables Rapid Deployment
Because ARUP's primary mission is to improve patient care, making Consult accessible to users at the point of care was a top priority. “Thanks to M-Business Anywhere’s ease of deployment, the ARUP Consult project team was able to make the service available to mobile users in just four months with a very limited development staff and budget,” says Olson.
“We know doctors are using it,” says Jackson, “and we suspect we are truly impacting patient care in a meaningful and positive way. We know the number of users continues to grow, so we feel we are achieving our objective.”
Easy and Efficient
For doctors wanting to use the mobile version of ARUP Consult, the process couldn’t be easier. They simply log onto the ARUP PDA and Mobile Device Web page (http://www.arupconsult.com/download.html) and download the M-Business Anywhere client onto their device. Once the client is installed, they create an account by simply entering their name, credentials, institution and a password. The client then configures the device to enable it to connect to the M-Business Anywhere Server and the process is complete. Users can then download and update ARUP Consult content, optimized for their particular device, whenever they like.
M-Business Anywhere also makes content updates easy and efficient.
Content is written and updated by the editorial team in ARUP’s content management system. When it’s time to issue a scheduled update, it’s a simple matter of pushing a button in the content management system, which then exports the content in HTML to the M-Business Anywhere Server. The content is immediately updated on the website, and on mobile users’ devices the next time they synchronize.
“M-Business Anywhere gives us the ability to develop and publish content simultaneously for the Web and a variety of Palm and Windows Mobile devices,” says Olson. “That’s a great benefit for us. The M-Business Anywhere platform plays a very important part in the successful operation of our ARUP Consult service, enabling us to achieve our objectives and to increase our brand visibility among the physician community.”