EHRs fall short on capturing complete patient mental health data, researchers say

A review of EHR capabilities when it comes to behavioral health treatment suggest that the technology may be ill-equipped to handle such data, which could result in patient harm.

Researchers looked at EHRs for a group of patients diagnosed with either depression or bipolar disorder and compared them to insurance claim and hospital data. They found up to 60 percent of outpatient care days were excluded from EHRs in some instances, because they occurred offsite. Additionally, the technology missed 89 percent of acute psychiatric services.

"While behavioral healthcare is unique, it is important to emphasize that our findings demonstrate that the problem of incomplete clinical data in the EHR is not limited to behavioral care," the authors wrote. "Rates of 'missingness' were high among both behavioral events and overall events, both in and outside the hospital. Specialist care of all types is particularly likely to be underrepresented in a primary care EHR."

For approximately 27 percent of all patient EHRs, diagnoses were missing. For between 45 percent of all EHRs of patient with depression, 20.5 outpatient care days were missing. Twenty-five outpatient care days were missing from 46 percent of records of those with bipolar disorder. 

More articles on EHRs:

4 common reasons for duplicate records 
ONC: 5 things to know about regional extension centers & EHR adoption 
24% of physicians say their EHRs can't accommodate end-of-life planning 

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