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New AHRQ Tool for PDAs Helps Clinicians Treat Community-acquired Pneumonia

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Press Release Date: March 1, 2004

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today announced its first clinical decision-support tool for personal digital assistants (PDAs) that is designed to help clinicians deliver evidence-based medicine at the point of care. AHRQ's new Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator (which is available for download from the AHRQ Web site at, is an interactive application for Palm Pilots and other PDAs to help doctors quickly and easily determine whether patients with community-acquired pneumonia should be treated at home or in a hospital.

"This new Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator is an example of how technology can support and facilitate the delivery of evidence-based medicine," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "AHRQ is striving to make decision support tools such as this available to clinicians."

Community-acquired pneumonia contracted outside of a hospital or nursing home environment affects approximately 4 million Americans and costs approximately $10 billion to treat each year. Nearly all of those costs—92 percent—are spent on treating patients who are hospitalized for care.

Developed by MDpda Design, Inc., the Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator is based on a clinical algorithm produced in 1997 by the AHRQ-funded multidisciplinary research team called the Pneumonia Patient Outcomes Research Team or PORT. The Pneumonia PORT developed and tested the Pneumonia Severity Index clinical algorithm to aid clinicians in treatment decisions for patients with community-acquired pneumonia.

This algorithm has been validated in a broad, randomized controlled trial and was shown to be safe, cost-effective, and to improve satisfaction by enabling patients to be treated at home rather than the hospital when appropriate. There is a sizable number of low-risk patients who could be treated safely on an outpatient basis, but these patients must be accurately identified before such treatment is recommended, according to the AHRQ-sponsored research.

AHRQ PDA applications are available for download at The AHRQ Pneumonia Severity Index Calculator is available in Palm OS, Pocket PC and HTML formats. Additional AHRQ PDA applications are under development.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: Joanne Alexandre, (301) 427-1245 ( ); Farah Englert, (301) 427-1865 (


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