State and Local Chronic Disease Surveillance Using Electronic Health Record Systems

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To assess the feasibility of chronic disease surveillance using distributed analysis of electronic health records and to compare results with Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) state and small-area estimates.


We queried the electronic health records of 3 independent Massachusetts-based practice groups using a distributed analysis tool called MDPHnet to measure the prevalence of diabetes, asthma, smoking, hypertension, and obesity in adults for the state and 13 cities. We adjusted observed rates for age, gender, and race/ethnicity relative to census data and compared them with BRFSS state and small-area estimates.


The MDPHnet population under surveillance included 1 073 545 adults (21.8% of the state adult population). MDPHnet and BRFSS state-level estimates were similar: 9.4% versus 9.7% for diabetes, 10.0% versus 12.0% for asthma, 13.5% versus 14.7% for smoking, 26.3% versus 29.6% for hypertension, and 22.8% versus 23.8% for obesity. Correlation coefficients for MDPHnet versus BRFSS small-area estimates ranged from 0.890 for diabetes to 0.646 for obesity.


Chronic disease surveillance using electronic health record data is feasible and generates estimates comparable with BRFSS state and small-area estimates.

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