The Use of Electronic Health Records to Support Population Health: A Systematic Review of the Literature.
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Electronic health records (EHRs) have emerged among health information technology as "meaningful use" to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare, and health disparities in population health. In other instances, they have also shown lack of interoperability, functionality and many medical errors. With proper implementation and training, are electronic health records a viable source in managing population health? The primary objective of this systematic review is to assess the relationship of electronic health records' use on population health through the identification and analysis of facilitators and barriers to its adoption for this purpose. Authors searched Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) and MEDLINE (PubMed), 10/02/2012-10/02/2017, core clinical/academic journals, MEDLINE full text, English only, human species and evaluated the articles that were germane to our research objective. Each article was analyzed by multiple reviewers. Group members recognized common facilitators and barriers associated with EHRs effect on population health. A final list of articles was selected by the group after three consensus meetings (n = 55). Among a total of 26 factors identified, 63% (147/232) of those were facilitators and 37% (85/232) barriers. About 70% of the facilitators consisted of productivity/efficiency in EHRs occurring 33 times, increased quality and data management each occurring 19 times, surveillance occurring 17 times, and preventative care occurring 15 times. About 70% of the barriers consisted of missing data occurring 24 times, no standards (interoperability) occurring 13 times, productivity loss occurring 12 times, and technology too complex occurring 10 times. The analysis identified more facilitators than barriers to the use of the EHR to support public health. Wider adoption of the EHR and more comprehensive standards for interoperability will only enhance the ability for the EHR to support this important area of surveillance and disease prevention. This review identifies more facilitators than barriers to using the EHR to support public health, which implies a certain level of usability and acceptance to use the EHR in this manner. The public-health industry should combine their efforts with the interoperability projects to make the EHR both fully adopted and fully interoperable. This will greatly increase the availability, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of data across the country, which will enhance benchmarking and disease surveillance/prevention capabilities.