EHR technology is constantly evolving as innovations in medical records and testing progress at a rapid rate. Recently, the importance of genomic data access in the medical field has become a part of the conversation involving EHR integration. Genomic data has the potential to allow clinicians to improve decision-making and conduct even more genetic research. However, since genomic data is complicated and contains so many data points, most EHR systems are unable to store this information properly, and it cannot be readily utilized by healthcare professionals.
Genomic data is incredibly complex and as of right now, EHRs must further develop in order to store this information in a usable format. Once EHRs are able to harness genomic data, the standard of care will improve by allowing physicians to access patient genome information. In this article, we will discuss what genomic data is, exactly how genomic data EHR integration has the power to change the future of healthcare, and the challenges currently facing EHR development.
What is genomic data and how does it relate to EHR integration?
EHR integration needs to advance to accommodate genomic data
A genome is a survey of a complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Genomic data is a term that specifically refers to the sequenced DNA that is presented in the form of raw data. Genomic data can refer to a person’s whole genome, part of a person’s genome, or individual DNA points.
An individual’s genomic data is incredibly dense and can contain around 3 billion data points that construct a person’s complete genetic makeup. Though much of this information is similar for every individual, there are sometimes variants that can be indicative of genetic diseases. Some examples of genetic diseases include cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anemia, Marfan syndrome, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Huntington disease, polycystic kidney disease, and Tay-Sachs disease.
Diseases caused by genetic variations can be caused by single-point changes in a genome or variations on entire genetic sequences. The access to genetic information has the potential to give healthcare providers a more holistic view of an individual’s needs that was previously completely unavailable. Once this information is available through EHR integration, doctors will be able to diagnose harmful diseases more easily and create precise care plans.
How will genomic data utilization improve clinical decision-making?
By making genomic data available through EHR integration, healthcare providers will be able to make more accurate diagnoses
The diagnosis and treatment of many disorders will be improved once EHRs can store and distribute the vast amount of information that makes up genomic data. This innovation will provide those with genetic disorders access to better care because the relevant information is available to their clinician immediately.
Not only will genomic data improve healthcare standards for those with or without genetic disorders, it also helps advance clinical decision support systems. A clinical decision support system is a program that provides clinicians and patients alike with individualized information that is filtered to only provide the most pertinent information required for care. CDS systems include a variety of different tools that are used to provide seamless and accurate care. These systems can include digital alerts, reminders, guidelines, focused patient data, diagnostic support tools, and many other forms of important information.
Genomic data can improve CDS technology by providing automated recommendations to clinicians to help them make more informed decisions. When genomic data becomes a part of EHR integration, it will also be able to pull educational content to help a doctor learn more about a patient's genetics. Once an interoperable EHR system is available to give providers access to genetic information, it can be fully integrated into CDS technology and display genomic information while a patient is receiving care.
What are some of the challenges associated with utilizing genomic data?
There are many technological hurdles to tackle before we can harness the human genome to influence clinical practice
Before we can use genomic data to inform medical decisions and improve CDS technology, there are many advancements that must occur for EHR systems. EHR systems have been subject to critique as to why genomic data has not yet been included in healthcare technology. There are concerns from professionals ranging from the massive amount of data required to display genomic data to continued issues with interoperability. These issues have delayed the use of genomic technologies in everyday medicine. There are also several concerns about individual DNA privacy raised by clinicians that have yet to be addressed.
How available is genomic data currently?
We know that genomic data improves patient care, but it is still not widely available
As EHR technology improves, we inch closer toward using genomic data to assist doctors and CDS systems. However, we are still far away from having genomic data available through EHR integration with the ability to be viewed by doctors and patients alike. Studies have shown that healthcare providers have extremely little access to genomic data and do not commonly use the data available to make diagnoses or establish personal care plans. Because of this lack of use, it becomes even more important that EHR technologies advance quickly to accommodate important and potentially life-saving genomic information.
Now that we have explored the ways that genomic data will improve EHR integration, it is up to health IT developers to improve EHRs so that this health information is accessible. The key to solving this problem is an advanced version of an EHR that will not have issues with storage or locating the most important data points in a genome. The future of personalized medicine depends on improved EHR technology. If you are interested in improving your organization’s EHR interoperability, look no further than Iron Bridge. Iron Bridge delivers cutting-edge solutions for data integration, public health management, patient access permissions, and data aggregation. With Iron Bridge, your organization can remain at the forefront of the medical industry. Contact one of our team members today for more information!