Healthcare has gone through a monumental change within the last few years. Today, there is a different air about care organizations. With a clear goal in sight, the industry has a motive to change. Healthcare must look beyond closed walls as it moves toward population health management. Health IT has given a purpose and has provided the tools. Today, EHR adoption in the US stands close to 60 percent and nearly half of those who do not own a system yet, have either just purchased one or are planning to do so in the near future.
Health IT has brought care to the next curve. Farzad Mostashari, head of the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT explains, ’I’ll say nobody who is on the second curve, who has really transformed care delivery has done it without IT.’ Dr. Mostashari believes in order to enable population health management, providers require information and that is where health IT is critical. Electronic health records are no longer simple tools to assist in data capturing and control, they are a lot more. The true potential of digitized information lies in big data and EHRs are built to provide structured output.
In 2009, a group of researchers conducted a study by using nearly 500,000 de-indentified patient records from Massachusetts. They used an EHR to mine records for possible patterns that could predict future cases of domestic abuse. The researchers later published a report citing 88% accuracy of the mined results.
In another instance, researchers from Explorys were able to recreate a study conducted by Norwegian researchers within 3 months while using a sample size that was nearly 40 times the size of the original study, which had lasted for 14 years. Led by David Kaelber, the research team examined the electronic health records for nearly 960,000 individuals, recording every blood clot. The research similar to the original study was able to detect a pattern for increased risk of clotting in men who were both obese and tall. The study showed a promise in EHR driven data mining and proved that it was possible to conduct large studies while using minimal resources. EHRs play a major part in the healthcare reform. However, given their true potential, they are likely to change the world of medical science and research.