EHR systems are now collecting invaluable information that physicians can use to detect disease patterns, clusters of patients exposed to specific toxins, and groups of patients who respond well to various drug regimens. We can't waste this gold mine.
Healthcare providers are being pushed to deliver more cost effective medical care and to improve the health of not just individual patients but large populations. One key to carrying out both mandates is finding more clinically effective treatment options.
Many academic medical thought leaders insist that the best way to find those treatment protocols is to test them in randomized controlled trials. Such RCTs require a large group of control subjects to receive either a placebo or conventional therapy and a large group to receive the experimental treatment in question. The problem is RCTs are outrageously expensive. In today's cost conscious healthcare system, that's a problem.
Enter comparative effectiveness research. CER compares two or more accepted treatments to determine which are most effective. Medical informatics comes into the picture because it's now possible to get these projects off the ground by analyzing huge patient databases. And much of that patient data can now be gleaned from electronic health record systems.