Regional health information exchanges can enable public health researchers to follow asthma trends in near real time and may help to inform patient-level public health interventions, according to a retrospective cohort study published in the Journal of Asthma.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic illnesses of childhood and appears to be increasing worldwide. Understanding the epidemiology of pediatric asthma is vital for decreasing the negative impact it has on affected children and their families. Historically, population incidence studies have used large-scale survey data. In the current study, however, researchers sought to measure these epidemiologic trends using electronic health record data from a regional health information exchange in the State of Indiana.

Data were obtained from 2010 to 2019 and included 50,393 patients aged 2 to 18 years old and 88,772 unique patient encounters. The investigators found that over this time period, hospital encounter rates ranged from 5000 to 8000 per year, with no change in trajectory. Between 2010 and 2012, the percent of encounters involving hospital admission hospital was approximately 30%, which decreased to around 20% to 25% for data from 2015 through 2019. However, patient mortality rates increased from 1 to 3 per 1000 patient encounters in data from 2010 through 2014 to between 5 and 7 per 1000 patient encounters in data from 2016 to 2019. In addition, the researchers found that White patients had a significantly higher admission percentage compared with that of other racial groups, although there was no difference in mortality rates.


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“Large regional health information exchanges offer a significant opportunity to increase the speed and availability of data access for public health research,” concluded the authors. They added, “This improvement has potential to both develop and coordinate meaningful patient-level public health interventions in response to changing epidemiologic trends.”

Reference

Rogerson C, He T, Rowan C, Tu W, Mendonca E. Ten year trends in hospital encounters for pediatric asthma: an Indiana experience. J Asthma. Published online December 7, 2021. doi:10.1080/02770903.2021.2010750