Pfizer recently announced results of an online survey that shows physicians are more likely to report drug side effects through an EHR system, as compared to traditional paper reporting. In addition, nearly 60 percent of survey respondents thought that the use of EHRs for adverse event reporting would improve patient care.

Of the 300 physicians surveyed, two-thirds utilized some form of an EHR system and one-third used a paper-based system. 50 percent of total respondents and 60% of respondents who are EHR users reported they would be more likely to report drug data using an EHR system. This study also confirmed a common barrier to EHR adoption; of those still using paper-based systems, 80 percent cited cost as the major deterrent.

Pfizer has been involved in many efforts to improve patient safety. In collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Partners Healthcare, CDISC (an international standards group), and CRIX International, the group conducted a pilot known as the ASTER (Adverse Drug Event Spontaneous Triggered Event Reporting) study. The program allowed physicians to use EHRs to report adverse events directly to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The results of this pilot revealed a significant increase in reporting, going from nearly zero reports to hundreds during the 5-month study period.  

EHR reporting of adverse drug effects could significantly increase the FDA’s product safety profiles. EHRs will increase buy-in from physicians to report the events because it is a much more convenient and efficient way of reporting. Without an EHR, the paper-based means of reporting an adverse drug event could take up to 40 minutes to complete. An EHR reduces this time to merely a few minutes.

The reporting of adverse drug events is critical to maintaining safety of pharmaceuticals. By increasing the reporting of such events, the FDA will have substantial data to back its efforts in maintaining drug safety. This is an example of how EHRs can be used to exchange important health data to assist larger efforts in public/population health.