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Cardiology Groups Establish EHR Data Elements

January 31, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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Recently, the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) announced they are teaming up to improve data collection in electronic health records (EHRs) through a set of standardized data elements and definitions for the clinical management of patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and coronary artery disease (CAD).

The groups drafted a document that has standards, which they say, will bolster data comparison among different studies and facilitate the adoption of research to clinical practice. Overall, they hope it can improve transfer of health data for research initiatives, clinical registries, structured reporting, and use within EHRs to enhance effective communication among healthcare professionals. ACS and CAD aren’t the first conditions that the groups have looked at, as there has been focus on electrophysiology, cardiac imaging, and heart failure as well.

The two associations, who formed a joint committee, said they reviewed case report forms, registries, clinical trial data, and existing data standards in other areas of cardiovascular care before constructing their own set of standards. They attempted to link evidence-based national treatment guidelines with the group's data elements and definitions. They also worked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has also developed standardized definitions of major outcomes for clinical trials.

"We hope that these data definitions can advance research and clinical care, to increase the adoption of both proven old therapies and new innovations in cardiology," stated Christopher Cannon, M.D., chair of the writing committee and cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “This advancement can support our ultimate goal — to improve outcomes for patients with cardiovascular disease.” 

The groups developed data elements and definitions in seven categories including demographic and admission, history and risk factors, clinical presentation, diagnostic procedure, invasive therapeutic intervention, medication, and outcomes.

According to the two groups, implementing data elements during charting may ease the move to an EHR. This is because harmonized, standardized definitions could more easily be exchanged across different providers. Also, the use of data standards should facilitate the development of future registries, both at the individual-hospital and national level. The committee stated that standardized definitions should aid quality-improvement efforts through data collection.

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