Potential value of electronic health records in capturing data on geriatric frailty for population health

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2020 Aug 12;91:104224. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2020.104224. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Despite the availability of many frailty measures to identify older adults at risk, frailty instruments are not routinely used for risk assessment in population health management. Here, we assessed the potential value of electronic health records (EHRs) and administrative claims in providing the necessary data for variables used across various frailty instruments.

Setting and participants: The review focused on studies conducted worldwide. Participants included older people aged 50 and older.

Design: We identified frailty instruments published between 2011 and 2018. Frailty variables used in each of the frailty instruments were extracted, grouped, and categorized across health determinants and various clinical factors.

Measures: The availability of the extracted frailty variables across various data sources (e.g., EHRs, administrative claims, and surveys) was evaluated by experts.

Results: We identified 135 frailty instruments, which contained 593 unique variables. Clinical determinants of health were the best represented variables across frailty instruments (n = 516; 87 %), unlike social and health services factors (n = 33; ∼5% and n = 32; ∼5%). Most frailty instruments require at least one variable that is not routinely available in EHRs or claims (n = 113; ∼83 %). Only 22 frailty instruments have the potential to completely rely on EHR (structured or free-text data) and/or claims data, and possibly be operationalized on a population-level.

Conclusions and implications: Frailty instruments continue to be highly survey-based. More research is therefore needed to develop EHR-based frailty instruments for population health management. This will permit organizations and societies to stratify risk and better allocate resources among different older adult populations.

Keywords: Administrative claims data; Electronic health records; Frailty instruments; Geriatric frailty; Population-level frailty measurement.