Mass General search engine helps docs extract salient data from cluttered EMRs

We've often reported how EMRs represent vast, untapped sources of clinical and business intelligence. A system developed at Massachusetts General Hospital to extract EMR data for radiologists may be able to help far beyond imaging departments, according to new research published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

"The potential impact of advanced EMR search tools is by no means limited to radiology and in fact many departments in the hospital and outpatient clinic may benefit from these capabilities," lead author Dr. Michael Zalis, a diagnostic radiologist at Mass General, says in an American College of Radiology press release.

Mass General created the Queriable Patient Inference Dossier (QPID) in 2005 to help radiologists pinpoint useful data from patient records. "Even in its simplest implementation, the presence of an EMR system presents considerable challenges to the radiologist," Zalis says. "For example, radiologists commonly encounter each patient with little prior familiarity with the patient's clinical situation. As a result, the time and effort required to retrieve, review and assimilate EMR data relevant for the case at hand becomes an important consideration for use of EMR in busy clinical practice."

The QPID system, developed separately from the home-grown EMR, helps physicians sort through the clutter that often builds up in electronic records, quickly pulling up patient histories and care records. The 500 or so registered users indexes 7,000 to 10,000 pages of data each day. "Thus QPID is not a source of new EMR data, but serves as a method to extract useful patterns of EMR data from the separately curated clinical data repositories at our institution," according to Zalis.

"In our own institution, with the QPID search system, we have catalyzed a growing base of enthusiastic users, many of whom have contributed their own insights and content to the system's catalogue of search modules, each of which is potentially applicable at more than one site. The future for advanced search of the EMR looks to be exciting and full of potential," Zalis adds.

To learn more:
- take a look at this Healthcare IT News story
- read the JACR study abstract
- see this American College of Radiology press release