Toward Improving Quality of End-of-Life Care: Encoding Clinical Guidelines and Standing Orders Using the Omaha System

Allison F. Slipka, Karen A Monsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: End-of-life care (EOLC) relieves the suffering of millions of people around the globe each year. A growing body of hospice care research has led to the creation of several evidence-based clinical guidelines for EOLC. As evidence for the effectiveness of timely EOLC swells, so does the increased need for efficient information exchange between disciplines and across the care continuum. Aims: The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using the Omaha System as a framework for encoding interoperable evidence-based EOL interventions with specified temporality for use across disciplines and settings. Methods: Four evidence-based clinical guidelines and one current set of hospice standing orders were encoded using the Omaha System Problem Classification Scheme and Intervention Scheme, as well as Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine—Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT). The resulting encoded guideline was entered on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and made available for public use on the Omaha System Guidelines website. Results: The resulting EOLC guideline consisted of 153 interventions that may enable patients and their surrogates, clinicians, and ancillary providers to communicate interventions in a universally comprehensible way. Linking Evidence to Action: Evidence-based interventions from diverse disciplines involved in EOLC are described within this guideline using the Omaha System. Because the Omaha System and clinical guidelines are maintained in the public domain, encoding interventions is achievable by anyone with access to the Internet and basic Excel skills. Using the guideline as a documentation template customized for unique patient needs, clinicians can quantify and track patient care across the care continuum to ensure timely evidence-based interventions. Conclusions: Clinical guidelines coded in the Omaha System can support the use of multidisciplinary evidence-based interventions to improve quality of EOLC across settings and professions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-37
Number of pages12
JournalWorldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • Omaha System
  • clinical guidelines
  • end-of-life care
  • evidence-based practice
  • hospice
  • palliative care

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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