An HHS advisory panel says that EHRs can help educate healthcare professionals on the rapidly evolving field of genetics.
"This approach involves the EHR 'understanding' where the provider is in the patient workflow so that when the query [about genetic factors that may affect testing or treatment decisions] is executed the provider is taken to content that is highly likely to be relevant," says a draft report from the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society.
The "just-in-time education" embedded in an EHR has shown to be a faster way of answering such questions than standard search engines, Government Health IT reports. However, committee members believe there haven't been any scientifically rigorous studies on whether embedded search functions help with "acquiring and retaining new knowledge that alters practice behavior."
For such tools to be effective, EHRs must be able to accept and process data on family history from consumers as well as by healthcare professionals, the draft says.
HHS is accepting public comments on the draft through June 30.