Study predicts patients' disease risks using emergency contacts

Emergency contact information housed in EHRs may be able to help predict a patient's risk for various hereditary conditions, according to a study published in the journal Cell.

A team of researchers from Columbia University, Mount Sinai Health System and NewYork-Presbyterian, all based in New York City, analyzed 2 million EHRs from patients seen at three academic medical centers in New York. By reviewing standard emergency contact information patients provided at registration, the researchers were able to identify 7.4 million familial relationships.

Using EHR data from these family members, the researchers estimated a patient's likelihood of developing 500 hereditary conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity and celiac disease. The researchers' estimates were consistent between sites, according to the study.

"EHRs contain next-of-kin information collected via patient emergency contact forms, but until now, these data have gone unused in research," the study authors concluded. "These analyses provide a validation of the use of EHRs for genetics and disease research."

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