The University of Texas at Austin has partnered with Baylor Scott & White Health and the Texas Department of State Health Services to introduce physicians to eTobacco, a newly designed tobacco cessation protocol that connects a patient’s electronic health record with a state-funded tobacco cessation program called Quitline.

According to the eTobacco protocol, when a trained physician encounters a patient who qualifies for help with tobacco cessation, the doctor can easily make a referral within the patient’s EHR, which results in automatic referral to the Quitline program. Eligible patients are then proactively contacted, counseled and provided with free nicotine replacement therapy.

At the end of the program, feedback and progress are reported through the medical records and shared with the prescribing physician.

“This initiative will have a huge impact on the No. 1 preventable risk factor for all chronic diseases — tobacco use — and stands to net the state over $271 million in healthcare cost reductions and workforce productivity increases,” said Michael Davis, project lead and director of the Cancer Institute at Baylor Scott & White Health.

His estimate reflects eventual implementation across central and north Texas, when the program will be available to all Baylor Scott & White Health patients.

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