A new study has emerged that suggests approximately half of data stored within electronic health records (EHR) is duplicated data. The study released by JAMA Network Open is oriented around the volume of information that was duplicated in EHRs, and where the duplicate information came from. Within the study, just under 105 million clinical notes were examined and researchers found 50.1% of the wordcount to be duplicated information. The content examined included notes from physicians at varying stages of their career including the lowest levels of training, in addition to nurses and therapists. The content that was duplicated was split evenly between intra-author and inter-author. Of the qualified individuals, physicians were found to have notes containing the highest level of novel information, however the information was also the longest, with a duplication rate of thirty to seventy percent.
A high rate of duplicated information is a significant hinderance to healthcare experts as they look to deliver efficient care with the most optimal outcome. Electronic health records have emerged as a leading method to store and analyze patient’s data in recent years; however, a high level of duplication means clinicians spend unnecessary time distinguishing between accurate and inaccurate data which can lead to less effective care provision. As well as this, duplicated data can spread dangerously through an EHR by creating viral copies of inaccurate information that clinicians find extremely difficult to correct over time. This was noted by the researchers, who stated: “Overworked clinicians may be disincentivized from reading such a bloated record, missing valuable clinical context not easily found elsewhere (eg, reasons for past diagnostic or therapeutic decisions), and leading to wasted time repeating past interventions or directly causing patient harm by missing findings requiring follow-up. Second, rampant duplication creates viral copies of errata that can spread through a record until they are impossible to correct because of the number of copies and the inability to mark information as erroneous.”
Researchers concluded that the duplicate information is derived from several key variables, including the EMR software makeup, document practices carried out by individual institutions, and an existing paradigm. The researchers also explained that alternative paradigms should be looked into and adopted in order to amend the high level of duplication.