Frailty Screening Using the Electronic Health Record Within a Medicare Accountable Care Organization

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Oct 4;74(11):1771-1777. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glz017.


Background: The accumulation of deficits model for frailty has been used to develop an electronic health record (EHR) frailty index (eFI) that has been incorporated into British guidelines for frailty management. However, there have been limited applications of EHR-based approaches in the United States.

Methods: We constructed an adapted eFI for patients in our Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO, N = 12,798) using encounter, diagnosis code, laboratory, medication, and Medicare Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) data from the EHR. We examined the association of the eFI with mortality, health care utilization, and injurious falls.

Results: The overall cohort was 55.7% female, 85.7% white, with a mean age of 74.9 (SD = 7.3) years. In the prior 2 years, 32.1% had AWV data. The eFI could be calculated for 9,013 (70.4%) ACO patients. Of these, 46.5% were classified as prefrail (0.10 < eFI ≤ 0.21) and 40.1% frail (eFI > 0.21). Accounting for age, comorbidity, and prior health care utilization, the eFI independently predicted all-cause mortality, inpatient hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and injurious falls (all p < .001). Having at least one functional deficit captured from the AWV was independently associated with an increased risk of hospitalizations and injurious falls, controlling for other components of the eFI.

Conclusions: Construction of an eFI from the EHR, within the context of a managed care population, is feasible and can help to identify vulnerable older adults. Future work is needed to integrate the eFI with claims-based approaches and test whether it can be used to effectively target interventions tailored to the health needs of frail patients.

Keywords: Falls; Frailty; Health Services; Multimorbidities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / statistics & numerical data
  • Accountable Care Organizations / economics
  • Accountable Care Organizations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Frailty / epidemiology*
  • Frailty / physiopathology
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Medicare / economics
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • United States