EMRs could be key to a future of predictive medicine

EMRs might be able to give early warning about patients who are at risk for domestic abuse, new research suggests. A study published in BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) this week found that data from well-populated EMRs were able to predict future diagnoses of injuries and assaults that could indicate domestic abuse 10 to 30 months in advance.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School analyzed more than half a million de-identified electronic records that contained at least four years of data on adult patients and developed a scoring system based on risk factors for abuse, including alcoholism, ER visits for injuries, depression and psychosis. "Our model predicted abuse two years before it appeared on medical records," lead author Ben Reis, an informatics specialist, told the Boston Globe.

Reis' research team will expand their work to other health problems in hopes of creating a screening-support system that could be integrated into EMR systems in the future. "With increasing amounts of data becoming available, this work has the potential to bring closer the vision of predictive medicine, where vast quantities of information are used to predict individuals' future medical risks in order to improve medical care and diagnosis," he said, according to Health Imaging & IT.

For more on the Harvard study and predictive medicine:
- see this Health Imaging & IT story
- check out this Boston Globe "White Coat Notes" blog post
- read the full BMJ article