Data-mining EHRs can detect hospital disease outbreaks, study finds

Data mining of an EHR accurately identified transmission routes among patients affected by hospital disease outbreaks, a study published in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology found.

Data mining entails finding patterns in large data sets. The researchers analyzed nine hospital outbreaks that happened between 2011 and 2016 and that had previously been characterized according to transmission route and molecular characterization of the bacterial isolates.

They determined the ability of EHR data mining to find the correct route of transmission, how early the correct route was identified during the timeline of the outbreak, and how many cases in the outbreaks could have been prevented had the data-mining system been running in real time.

The researchers identified the correct routes for almost all outbreaks at the second patient affected. They also found up to 40 infections could have been prevented if data mining had been implemented in real time.

"Data mining of the EHR was accurate for identifying routes of transmission among patients who were part of the outbreak," the researchers concluded. "Prospective validation of this approach using routine whole-genome sequencing and data mining of the EHR for both outbreak detection and route attribution is ongoing."

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