The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) can affect patient health and clinical care. However, the current documentation of e-cigarette use in the electronic health records (EHR) is inconsistent. This report outlines how the ambulatory clinical practices of a large U.S. hospital system optimized its electronic health records (EHR) framework to better record e-cigarettes used by patients. The new EHR section for e-cigarette information was implemented for outpatient appointments. During a 30-week evaluation period post-implementation, 638,804 patients (12 yrs and older) completed ambulatory appointments within the health system; of these, the new section contained e-cigarette use information for 37,906 (6%) patients. Among these patients, 1005 (2.7%) were identified as current e-cigarette users (current every day or current some day e-cigarette use), 941 (2.5%) were reported as former e-cigarette users, and 35,960 (94%) had never used e-cigarettes. A separate EHR section to document e-cigarette use is feasible within existing clinical practice models. Utilization of the new section was modest in routine clinical practice, indicating the need for more intensive implementation strategies that emphasize the health effects of e-cigarette use, and how consistent ascertainment could improve clinical practice.
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