Electronic medical records (EMRs), epidemiology, and epistemology: reflections on EMRs and future pediatric clinical research

Acad Pediatr. Jul-Aug 2011;11(4):280-7. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2011.02.007. Epub 2011 May 31.


Electronic medical records (EMRs) are increasingly common in pediatric patient care. EMR data represent a relatively novel and rich resource for clinical research. The fact, however, that pediatric EMR data are collected for the purposes of clinical documentation and billing rather than research creates obstacles to their use in scientific investigation. Particular issues include accuracy, completeness, comparability between settings, ease of extraction, and context of recording. Although these problems can be addressed through standard strategies for dealing with partially accurate and incomplete data, a longer-term solution will involve work with pediatric clinicians to improve data quality. As research becomes one of the explicit purposes for which pediatricians collect EMR data, the pediatric clinician will play a central role in future pediatric clinical research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / trends*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Documentation / trends
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Male
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / trends
  • Pediatrics / organization & administration*
  • Research Design
  • United States