Panattoni L, Stults CD, Chan AS, Tai-Seale M., Am J Manag Care. 26(7):e232-e236. doi: 10.37765/ajmc.2020.43766., 2020 Jul 01
Albert Chan, M.D., M.S., FAAFP, Cheryl Stults, Ph.D., Assistant Scientist
Objectives: Sutter Health developed a novel autopend, or automated laboratory test ordering, clinical decision support (CDS) tool to coordinate the patient and physician process of completing preventive services. This study estimated the costs of developing and implementing the autopend functionality within an existing electronic health maintenance (HM) reminder system.
Study design: Human resource time was measured by triangulating in-depth key informant interviews with Microsoft Outlook Calendar metadata (meetings attended) for managers and hourly data from a time-based project management tool (Project Web App) for Epic programmers. Employee time spent was multiplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics California state hourly wages. Sutter Health is an integrated health care delivery network with more than 12,000 physicians across 100 communities serving 3 million patients.
Methods: Activity-based costing methodology was used to divide the implementation into activities and the human resources required to complete them.
Results: Developing and implementing the autopend CDS took more than 3 years, involved 6 managers and 3 Epic programmers, and cost $201,500 (2013 US$) (2670 total hours), which excluded the costs of implementing the initial HM reminder system. Managers spent 90.5% of the total costs (86.6% of total hours) integrating autopend into the health system compared with 9.5% of the total costs (13.4% of total hours) spent programming the functionality.
Conclusions: The autopend CDS might be similarly costly for other organizations to implement if their managers need to complete comparable activities. However, electronic health record vendors could include autopend as a standard package to reduce development costs and improve the uptake of this promising CDS tool.