Introduction: The paper and electronic medical record (EMR) have evolved with little scientific inquiry into what effect the informant (clinician or patient) has on the validity of the recorded information. We have previously reported on an electronic interview program that facilitated parents' direct reporting of past medical history data. We sought to define additional data elements that parents could report electronically and to compare parents' electronically entered data to that charted by physicians using the current EMR system.
Methods: A convenience sample of parents was recruited to enter data on history of present illness (HPI) and review of systems (ROS) elements using an electronic interview. Data from the electronic parental interview and information abstracted from the physician EMR were compared to data derived from a face-to-face criterion standard interview. Validity, sensitivity and specificity of each mode of data entry were calculated.
Results: 100 of 140 eligible parents (71.4%) participated. Validity of information from the electronic interview was comparable to that charted by emergency physicians for HPI regarding fever and ROS questions. Sensitivity of parents' electronic interview was superior to physicians' charting for ROS elements specific to hydration status.
Conclusions: Improved sensitivity for detection of historical risk factors for illness can be achieved by augmenting the pediatric EMR with a section for direct parental direct data input. Direct parental data input to the EMR should be considered to improve the quality of documentation for medical histories.