Research data gathered via EHRs differ from info from traditional means

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Medical researchers are utilizing electronic health records (EHRs) to conduct research on a variety of conditions. A recent study in Circulation evaluated the accuracy of EHR data provided for cardiovascular care traditionally obtained data.

EHRs have given researchers the ability to evaluate large amounts of data quickly—but whether outcomes reached via EHR is equivalent to outcomes obtained with traditional research remained an unknown. This study evaluated research on cardiovascular measures provided by HealthLNK, a database of EHRs from six Chicago health systems from 2006 to 2012, with data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) community-based cohort study.

"Using diagnoses in MESA as the criterion standard, we calculated the performance of HealthLNK for hypertension, obesity and diabetes diagnosis using ICD-9 codes and clinical data,” wrote first author Faraz S. Ahmad, MD, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, et al. “We also identified potential myocardial infarctions, strokes and heart failure events in HealthLNK and compared them with adjudicated events in MESA.”

A total of 1,164 MESA data from participants were included, 802 of which had data in HealthLNK. Results showed disparities in the EHR datasets and traditional research results in measures of blood pressure, body mass index, hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

“These findings illustrate the limitations and strengths of electronic data repositories compared with information collected by traditional standardized epidemiologic approaches for the ascertainment of cardiovascular disease risk factors and events,” concluded Ahmad.