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Clin Nephrol. 2013 Mar;79(3):175-83. doi: 10.5414/CN107757.

Electronic health records: a new tool to combat chronic kidney disease?

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Department of Neprology and Hypertension, Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


Electronic health records (EHRs) were first developed in the 1960s as clinical information systems for document storage and retrieval. Adoption of EHRs has increased in the developed world and is increasing in developing countries. Studies have shown that quality of patient care is improved among health centers with EHRs. In this article, we review the structure and function of EHRs along with an examination of its potential application in CKD care and research. Well-designed patient registries using EHRs data allow for improved aggregation of patient data for quality improvement and to facilitate clinical research. Preliminary data from the United States and other countries have demonstrated that CKD care might improve with use of EHRs-based programs. We recently developed a CKD registry derived from EHRs data at our institution and complimented the registry with other patient details from the United States Renal Data System and the Social Security Death Index. This registry allows us to conduct a EHRs-based clinical trial that examines whether empowering patients with a personal health record or patient navigators improves CKD care, along with identifying participants for other clinical trials and conducting health services research. EHRs use have shown promising results in some settings, but not in others, perhaps attributed to the differences in EHRs adoption rates and varying functionality. Thus, future studies should explore the optimal methods of using EHRs to improve CKD care and research at the individual patient level, health system and population levels.

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