Research at the point of care: Using electronic medical record systems to generate clinically meaningful evidence

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Journal of Athletic Training


Context: Health care leaders have recommended the use of health information technology to improve the quality of patient care. In athletic training, using informatics, such as electronic medical records (EMRs), would support practice-based decisions about patient care. However, athletic trainers (ATs) may lack the knowledge to effectively participate in point-of-care clinical research using EMRs. Objectives: To discuss the role of EMRs in athletic training and identify methodologic approaches to conducting clinical research at the point of care. Description: The 2020 Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education curricular content standards included the use of an electronic patient record to document care, mitigate error, and support decision making through the collection and use of patient data (Standard 64). Patient data are collected by ATs at the point of care via routine documentation, and these data can be used to answer clinical questions about their practice. Observational or descriptive study designs are ideal for this type of data. Observational research (ie, case-control, cross-sectional, cohort studies) evaluates factors that influence patients’ lives in the ‘‘real world,’’ whereas descriptive research (ie, case study or series, descriptive epidemiology studies) identifies characteristics of individuals and groups. If ATs are comprehensively documenting patient care using an EMR, they have the means to participate in observational and descriptive research. Clinical and Research Advantages: Using an EMR to its full capacity allows ATs to collect meaningful data at the point of care, conduct practice-based research, and improve health care for the patient and clinician. However, to ensure data quality, these approaches must include routine and comprehensive documentation habits.

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