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Using a health information technology survey to explore the availability of addiction treatment data in the electronic health records: A National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network study


Journal Article

Wu, L. T.; Payne, E. H.; Roseman, K.; Case, A.; Nelson, C.; Lindblad, R.



J Subst Abuse Treat




Electronic Health Records Female Humans Infant, Newborn *Medical Informatics Research Design *Substance-Related Disorders/therapy Surveys and Questionnaires Clinical Trials Network Common data elements Health information technology Substance use disorder

BACKGROUND: Healthcare data from electronic health records (EHRs) and related health information technology (IT) tools are critical data sources for pragmatic clinical trials and observational studies aimed at producing real-world evidence. To unlock the full potential of such data to advance science, the data must be complete and in structured formats to facilitate research use. METHODS: A Health IT survey was conducted within the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN) to explore information related to data completeness and presence of unstructured data (e.g., clinical notes, free text) for conducting the EHR-based research for substance use disorders (SUDs). The analysis was based on 36 participants from 36 facilities located in 14 states and affiliated with the CTN. RESULTS: The mean age of the participants (n = 34) was 48.0 years (SD = 9.8). Of the participants enrolled, 50.0% were female and 82.4% were white. Participants' facilities were from four census-defined regions (South 35.3%, Northeast 29.4%, West 20.6%, Midwest 11.8%, Missing 2.9%) and represented diverse settings. The EHR was used by all surveyed facilities including 17 different kinds of EHR platforms or vendors, and 17.6% (n = 6) of surveyed facilities also used a separate EHR for behavioral health care (e.g., SUD care). Paper records were also used by 76.5% of surveyed facilities for clinical care (e.g., for health risk appraisal questionnaires, substance use screening or assessment, check-in screening, substance use specific intervention/treatment or referral, or labs/testing). The prevalence of using a patient portal, practice management system, and mHealth for patient care was 76.5%, 50.0%, and 29.4%, respectively. CONCLUSION: While results are descriptive in nature, they reveal the heterogeneity in the existing EHRs and frequent use of paper records to document patient care tasks, especially for SUD care. The use of a separate EHR for behavioral healthcare also suggests the challenge of obtaining complete EHR data to support research for SUDs. Much EHR development, integration, and standardization needs to be done especially in regard to SUD treatment to facilitate research across disparate healthcare systems.

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