Adding Genomic Info to The EMR

Posted on May 15, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she’s served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Today I read an interesting blog item making the case for including validated genomic test data in EMRs.  The author argues that with the increasing relevance of genomic testing to treatment, it’s critical to offer clinicians access to such data.

As the author notes, some specialties have already begun to tailor drug treatments to individual patients based on their genomic profile.   For example, DNA sequencing of tumors in non-Hodgkin’s and Mantle Cell lymphoma can lead to personalized cancer vaccines that can produce great results, notes writer Gerry Higgins of the NIH.

Such data can also be used for a growing number of clinical situations, such as tailoring Coumadin doses to specific patients and providing psychiatric patients with the appropriate drug.

However, EMRs currently don’t allow for integrating such data, Higgins notes.  To do so, EMRs will need to accept unstructructed data and make it accessible for analysis  via decision support tools.

Until clinicians demand such data, it’s not likely to become a standard part of EMRs.  To date, while oncologists, pathologists and genetics experts are rapidly becoming aware of the value of these tests, the rest of the medical world is just catching up.

But over time, personalized medical treatments like these will become common. To support these treatments,  EMR systems will need to incorporate the tools and the capabilities needed to build on genomic analysis.  If Higgins is right, EMR vendors should get on this right away.