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Creighton Professor Develops Electronic Program to Coordinate Patient Care

Creighton Professor Develops Electronic Program to Coordinate Patient Care

Creighton University Intellectual Resources Management has filed a patent for a novel, electronic program to coordinate patient health care – called eWellRx – that could help health care providers, patients and even companies improve health and reduce health care costs.

Tom Lenz, Pharm.D., a Creighton associate professor of pharmacy practice in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, developed eWellRx after Creighton officials were unable to find anything similar on the market to assist with a one-year pilot project to help employees reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease. Lenz is director of the pilot study, which ends Aug. 30, 2009.

Lenz says he hopes to offer an expanded program to other companies within the next year. He estimates that eWellRx, when rolled out full-scale, could save institutions like Creighton thousands of dollars annually in health costs while improving people’s quality of life through positive lifestyle changes such as better nutrition and exercise habits.

“It will be particularly beneficial for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure,” he predicted. “The program could also be used by health care professionals who treat patients with chronic diseases, such as cancer, or HIV, organ transplants or bariatric surgery to coordinate patient care when several additional health care professionals are involved.

Under eWellRx, a patient’s medical records, including a daily diary of vital signs, dietary intake, exercise and medications – are monitored electronically by a designated health care team led by a care coordinator. The team, including the care coordinator, doctors, pharmacists, nurses and others, as well as the patient, then can communicate securely through eWellRx to address concerns such as incompatible medications or patient questions.

Lenz believes eWellRx is a “giant leap forward” with the concept of wellness and chronic-condition management. Because of its electronic documentation, health care provider communication and other components, he said, the program can closely monitor patient conditions with a goal of keeping patients out of the hospital.

The invention could become particularly valuable as the United States moves toward uniform, electronic medical records, he said.

“Not only can eWellRx greatly reduce a patient’s chance of having a stroke, heart attack or some other life-threatening event that will land him or her in the hospital, but the person can become happier in the process,” Lenz said. “That’s pretty neat.”