Kaiser Permanente in California was a bit ahead of the game, but through members agreeing to donate their DNA a few years ago, they now have a massive data base to studyand all of this would not be possible without the use of their medical records system.
The National Institute of Health saw the value and gave Kaiser a grant of $25 million to pursue the effort. What is really unique here is that records go back go 1995 so there’s a lot of history of chronic conditions and other items to be matched which if you track what is happening in this area this is what researchers are looking for exactly with those types of answers working with identifying genes. Kaiser Permanente is just barely getting a start on the gold mine of information and we should be hearing more in the future on how an EHR can play a vital role to finding the keys to both treatments and cures. Presently the study is looking at the LDL or bad cholesterol levels with medical records and is able to match up the DNA testing on individuals.
There were several markers already known, however now with using medical records they are identifying more. In addition the use of statins are being studied with once again taking a history of medications prescribed with the information from the medical records system and combining it with DNA material. This stands to also offer additional facts on how various prescription drugs work for individuals with certain variations.
This is yet one more benefit from using and electronic medical record system and as sequencing becomes more available and less expensive, entities outside of Kaiser will also be able to replicate some of the same information even within a small practice.
A massive research project in California is beginning to show how genes, health habits and the environment can interact to cause diseases. And it’s all possible because 100,000 people agreed to contribute some saliva in the name of science.
The saliva came from members of Kaiser Permanente’s health plan in Northern California. “We sent them a little plastic kit that looks sort of like a large contact lens case,” says Cathy Schaefer, an epidemiologist and executive director of Kaiser’s research program on genes, environment and health. Before long, she says, people had mailed in 100,000 saliva samples.