As Coronavirus Strikes, Crucial Data In Electronic Health Records Hard To Harvest

When President Donald Trump started touting hydroxychloroquine as “one of the biggest game changers” for treating COVID-19, researchers hoped electronic health records could quickly tell them if he was on the right track.

Yet pooling data from the digital records systems in thousands of hospitals has proved a technical nightmare thus far. That’s largely because software built by rival technology firms often cannot retrieve and share information to help doctors judge which coronavirus treatments are helping patients recover.

“I’m stunned at EHR vendors’ inability to consistently pull data from their systems,” said Dale Sanders, chief technology officer of Health Catalyst, a medical data analytics company. “It’s absolutely hampering our ability to understand and react to COVID.”

Over the past decade, federal officials have spent some $36 billion switching from paper to electronic health records, or EHRs, expecting, among other things, to harness volumes of medical data to reveal which

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