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by Laurie Felstow | Peeyush Pushkin
Published on July 8, 2020

With the highly contagious nature and spread of the COVID-19 virus, it quickly became evident that early notification of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results was critical for the safety of patients and clinicians in the Emergency Department (ED) setting. An existing client reached out to Cerner for recommendations for an early warning system. The collaboration between this large health care system and Cerner resulted in the development of a face-up notification in the Cerner FirstNet® application.

As COVID-19 continues to impact, PCR testing is being performed in many different care venues within this client’s network. It is essential that an infected patient is recognized as soon as he or she is registered, without the need to review that patient’s electronic health record (EHR). This notification enables early isolation, potentially decreasing further COVID-19 exposure.

Cerner rapidly deployed a consulting team to partner with our client to develop a solution addressing this requirement. Understanding the actual need, the team took the approach of reviewing each workflow contributing to the presentation of a patient to an ED. Armed with this knowledge, the ability to create a COVID-19 early warning on the FirstNet solution was devised, utilizing tools such as intelligent rules, documentation tools and discrete results.

To operationalize the project, the team created a series of face-up event icons, which are programmed to update as the PCR test is processed. An active order for PCR testing generates the initial suspect event icon, which progresses automatically to the discrete result obtained from the actual lab result (positive, negative or inconclusive). A new column was also placed on every FirstNet tracking location in the various ED locations to further distinguish the COVID-19-specific icons.

In addition to the design for the PCR test performed during a specific visit encounter, the team determined it would be relevant to display previous visit results on subsequent visits – making health care workers aware of potential risk. The most recent PCR order and/or result event icons, despite the location performed, are now set to display on all encounters that utilize the FirstNet. This spans multiple free-standing facilities.

There has been a great deal of success and value achieved with the implementation of this new functionality. Real-time updates related to COVID-19 PCR test results are making a difference on the frontline, where it really matters.


For information regarding Cerner’s content and assistance in light of the COVID-19, please click here.