Enhanced identification of eligibility for depression research using an electronic medical record search engine

Lisa Seyfried, David A. Hanauer, Donald Nease, Rashad Albeiruti, Janet Kavanagh, Helen C. Kales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Purpose: Electronic medical records (EMRs) have become part of daily practice for many physicians. Attempts have been made to apply electronic search engine technology to speed EMR review. This was a prospective, observational study to compare the speed and clinical accuracy of a medical record search engine vs. manual review of the EMR. Methods: Three raters reviewed 49 cases in the EMR to screen for eligibility in a depression study using the electronic medical record search engine (EMERSE). One week later raters received a scrambled set of the same patients including 9 distractor cases, and used manual EMR review to determine eligibility. For both methods, accuracy was assessed for the original 49 cases by comparison with a gold standard rater. Results: Use of EMERSE resulted in considerable time savings; chart reviews using EMERSE were significantly faster than traditional manual review (p = 0.03). The percent agreement of raters with the gold standard (e.g. concurrent validity) using either EMERSE or manual review was not significantly different. Conclusions: Using a search engine optimized for finding clinical information in the free-text sections of the EMR can provide significant time savings while preserving clinical accuracy. The major power of this search engine is not from a more advanced and sophisticated search algorithm, but rather from a user interface designed explicitly to help users search the entire medical record in a way that protects health information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e13-e18
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical research
  • Computerized databases
  • Information storage and retrieval
  • Medical informatics
  • Medical record systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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