Importance of Electronic Health Records during a Pandemic

Pandemics create havoc and the pandemic we have been experiencing for more than a year now is no different. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been affecting millions of people worldwide with serious sickness and fatality. Reacting to such a public health emergency asks for storage of and access to large volumes of data that can be analyzed appropriately and in time by the various stakeholders of public health including policymakers.

To prepare the public for such crises in the future and tackle the present situation effectively, thorough research has to be taken up along with providing required resources to the public for their safety. This requires building a robust and scalable infrastructure that can process large volumes of data quickly and efficiently. Electronic health records (EHRs) have been a valuable resource in analyzing and mitigating the challenges of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a severe respiratory disease caused by infection due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus leading to a wide range of disease severity with varied presentation and organ system involvement. To reduce the impact of prevalent misery, morbidity, and mortality, it is required that vast-scale scientific efforts are implemented. Although many people are seeing similarities between this pandemic and the previous pandemics, one major differentiator is the availability and use of several data sources including electronic health records.

The data pulled from electronic health records can help authorities and various parties concerned through –

  • disease surveillance
  • contract tracing
  • risk evaluation
  • real-time monitoring
  • early detection of disease
  • prevention and management of severe disease
  • identification of risk factors
  • recognition of complications

Further, electronic health records also facilitate by providing insights into the pathophysiologic process and help by serving as a platform for the utilization of artificial intelligence for the early detection, prevention, and effective management of pandemics.

To monitor outbreaks of infectious diseases, active surveillance, and contact tracing is implemented. Instead of going through a complex and time-consuming process of manually tracing the people who came into close contact with infected people, technological advancements can be leveraged that facilitate the use of several apps that use the mobile device data linked to the electronic health records. This can be utilized efficiently by educating the public to enter their data immediately into these electronic health records-connected apps when they test positive for the disease. This helps to alert other users if they were in proximity to the infected person during a particular period before testing positive.

Risk stratification is also a significant aspect of studying and mitigating the pandemic crisis. By deploying certain algorithms across electronic health record systems, government authorities and healthcare providers assess the number of comorbidities, multi-organ complications, and disease severity in people affected by the coronavirus disease. Such a kind of assessment of risk can facilitate early interventions in people with a high risk of disease severity and those who need ventilator support thereby reducing the risk of disease progression and mortality.

Further, the use of data from electronic health records can be efficiently used to understand the correlation between age comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, etc. to predict the risk of death due to coronavirus disease. It has been observed that aged patients with multiple comorbidities are at a high risk of severe illness due to coronavirus. The integration of certain algorithms with the EHR systems can facilitate the early detection and management of complications developed including myocardial injury, myocardial infarction, malignant arrhythmias, thromboembolic disease, etc.

It can be clearly understood that electronic health records consist of vital data elements that can help in responding to the pandemic crisis efficiently. Data from electronic health records can enormously help the authorities in making public health decisions and support various stakeholders including clinicians, researchers, administrators, and the public with authentic and real-time data. Healthcare facilities must pay attention to maintaining their electronic health records timely and accurate. For flawless and timely records, they can outsource the job to Avontix, an EHR services provider in Hyderabad.

Importance of Electronic Health Records during a Pandemic