Electronic health records (EHR) will enhance healthcare and reduce costs. Additionally, if wisely leveraged, they will contribute to the growing data analytics field. This produces benefits for both the healthcare practitioner and the patient.
Dr. David Blumenthal was the national coordinator for promoting electronic health records (EHR) from 2009 to 2011. He shares his thoughts on the growing opportunities of EHR and data analytics (James Fallows, “The Paper Cure” The Atlantic, April 2014, pp. 26–28):
“We have lots of information, and we don’t always know what to do with it. Your doctor, your nurse, is not prepared to process the information they already have. It’s already overwhelming. And adding more in will just make it even more anxiety-provoking and overwhelming. That is, in a sense, the big data challenge facing health care in the future. . . . [Data analytics] will help us take these data and turn them into diagnostic information—into recommendations a physician can give a patient or that patients can get directly, online. That’s where the future lies, and of course people want the benefit of it right now.” (p. 28)
We face the proverbial case of being flooded with information but starved for knowledge. Information alone never gets the job done. The indispensable dynamic is what does that information catalyze? How will we use that information? What insights do we derive from that information?
EHR will help us get there, but only if we employ data analytics to make it accessible and useful. Especially exciting is the patient having more direct involvement in the data. This means that the patient can take immediate action for healthcare enhancement.