EMRs backed major study on heart-attack prevention, but you'd hardly know

While dozens of media outlets picked up on a Kaiser Permanente-led study, published in the American Journal of Managed Care, about how a "bundle" of two low-cost medications could prevent heart attacks, nearly every report I saw missed out on one major detail of the report: The researchers would never have found a link without the help of EMRs and predictive modeling technology.

Kaiser mined its KP HealthConnect EMR--its name for the Epic Systems installation across all nine Kaiser regions--to find patients at risk for heart attack or stroke to participate in the study. Once the program started, the EMR helped Kaiser clinicians track their patients' adherence to the recommended treatment.

One of the authors, Dr. David Eddy, is the developer of the Archimedes Model, a computer-based simulator of human health, diseases, behavior and medical interventions. The Archimedes predictive modeling technology, combining mathematics and data mining, helped the researchers forecast which drug bundles would have the greatest effect on prevention of heart disease.

Yes, it's significant to know that the bundle of a statin and a blood-pressure-lowering medication cut the risk of heart attack and stroke by 71 percent in a study group already at high risk for heart disease. But isn't it much cooler to know that the drug combination was less the product of many rounds of trial and error, and more the result of a smart application of an EMR?

EMRs, of course, are only as good as the information that gets put in the records. Find out about the future of dictation and transcription in the age of EMRs during a free FierceEMR webinar I'm hosting on Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. EDT. Click here for more information and to register. - Neil