NIOSH and Electronic Health Records

What do electronic health records (EHRs) have to do with NIOSH? In the clinical setting, the accurate diagnosis and management of work-related conditions is essential to an individual's health. While the EHR does not replace the skilled health care provider, it can provide information to assist providers with evaluating the contribution and impact of work on health. For example, when a person's job and workplace are recorded in the EHR, this information can help the provider evaluate the source of a patient's injury or illness. Information about a person's jobs and workplaces over time can be used to assess whether or not a chronic illnesses—such as cancer—may be related to exposures at their workplaces. In its just-released report entitled Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, What We Can Do Now, the President's Cancer Panel recommended that physicians routinely ask their patients about their previous and current work, and that this information be incorporated into the medical record. Programming the EHR to store and display information about a person's job history will facilitate this.

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