Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

An Alert and a Web-Based Tool for Managing Acute Pancreatitis

Technology #5816

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Matthew J. DiMagno
Managed By
Drew Bennett
Associate Director - Software Licensing 734-615-4004

This is an electronic tool for implementing clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of acute pancreatitis for emergency care patients. It combines an automated paging alert that notifies a clinician of a possible acute pancreatitis diagnosis, and a web-based clinical decision support module that guides the clinician through disease management recommendations based on up-to-date best practices. Acute pancreatitis is the most common reason for all gastrointestinal-related hospitalizations in the US, with over 270,000 people requiring hospitalization every year. Although clinical guidelines for managing acute pancreatitis are available, studies have shown high levels of non-compliance by clinicians, even though patient outcomes show a direct correlation with guideline adherence. Finding efficient methods to increase timely implementation of these recommendations could produce significant cost reductions associated with treatment of acute pancreatitis.

Alert and Web-Based Clinical Decision Support Tool for Management of Acute Pancreatitis

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Medicine designed an electronic alert system and a web-based point of care clinical decision support tool to diagnose and manage acute pancreatitis. When a patient is admitted to the emergency department and a blood test shows elevated levels of amylase or lipase proteins, an alert is sent to the clinician advising him of a potential diagnosis of acute pancreatitis. The physician is directed to a web-based tool PancMap that outlines a set of recommendations based on clinical guidelines. Using this alert and point of care tool, severity of acute pancreatitis can be assessed quickly and accurately, and the patient can be treated immediately. This system was implemented at the University of Michigan hospital, and showed that the use of the alert and the PancMap tool significantly decreased the hospital length of stay, both for patients suffering from mild and moderate-to-severe forms of the disease. In addition, practitioner performance regarding guideline adherence improved significantly as well, both in assessment of disease severity and rapid administration of treatment. Based on these results, the combination of an alert and a web-based decision support tool produced significant improvements in the treatment of acute pancreatitis, and resulted in substantial cost savings for the healthcare facility.


  • Implementation of clinical practice guidelines for treating acute pancreatitis
  • Use as a prototype for clinical guideline implementation for other diseases


  • Aids in real-time point of care decision making based on evidence-based practices
  • Reduces hospital length of stay that can decrease healthcare costs
  • Optimizes administration of treatment to prevent complications
  • Minimizes clinician error and variations in clinical care
  • Can be easily updated to incorporate the latest best practices