EHR software can modernize the clinical trials process

When working to meet the stringent requirements of stage 2 meaningful use, orthopedic doctors and other physicians are implementing electronic health record software. As the population ages, clinical data stored on these platforms will become integral to the coordination of care.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, generating an annual medical cost of nearly $147 billion in 2008 alone. Two years later, zero states met the nation's "Healthy People 2010" goal of decreasing obesity prevalence to 15 percent.

Obesity can cause a range of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes and orthopedic disorders. Clinical drug trials approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are essential to improving treatment strategies, and EHR software may be the link physicians need to better quality of care.

Determining optimal participants
According to HealthDataManagement, increased data sharing and greater interoperability of EHRs can help modernize the clinical trial process. Recently, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health reviewed how improvements to the FDA's system can expedite the development and delivery of new treatments. Sometimes, drugs can take almost 14 years and $2 billion to reach the consumer market, with much of the costs being spent on recruiting subjects for the trials.

"It is often difficult to identify potential participants, due to a shortage of centralized registries, low awareness of the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, low patient retention and lack of engagement among community doctors and volunteers," said Joseph Pitts (R-Penn.), quoted by the news source. "In many cases, researchers have been slow to utilize technology, such as [EHRs] and Web-based platforms in their trials, which is also a barrier to greater collaboration and information sharing."

With the advent of EHRs, massive amounts of medical data are generated every day at practices around the country. However, only a small bit of this information is being used to advance health care by enhancing clinical knowledge. By tapping into EHRs as a viable data source, providers can create a health system that continuously improves on itself.

Facilities can compile large registries of patients who share certain conditions, allowing doctors to review corresponding risk factors, biomarkers and treatment defects. Working within the list, they learn more about the effects of specific products while in clinical use. This assures that additional health information will be efficiently collected through an EHR platform.

However, greater interoperability is required for this idea to become a reality. Providers from ranging facilities would be able to search EHR databases across several sites and review the pertinent data necessary to determine which patients would be ideal choices for clinical trials. Hopefully, as vendors make strides to improve their products in compliance with meaningful use requirements, EHRs will be tapped as a valuable resource for improving on the trial process in the U.S.