Researchers from Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City, and the University of Utah have developed an electronic tool that links to a patient’s medical records and automatically extracts data to predict the severity of pneumonia. The tool then provides recommendations about where to admit the patient, which diagnostic tests are best, and which antibiotics are most appropriate.

In the emergency departments where the technology was tested, there was a significant reduction in death rates, according to findings presented at the 2013 European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

According to researchers, crude inpatient mortality rates fell from 5.3% to 3.5%; after adjusting for severity the relative risk of death was reduced by 25%.

“Although doctors are free to choose at any time whether to follow the recommendations, we think that a tool that is individualized and integrated into the electronic health record is a much more efficient way of supporting decision-making and making treatment guidelines quickly accessible during an emergency situation,” said senior author Nathan C. Dean, MD, from the University of Utah.