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NIOSH Expresses Appreciation, Support for IOM Electronic Records Study


April 6, 2011
NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser, (202) 245-0645

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today expressed appreciation to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) for agreeing to conduct a study requested by NIOSH to examine the rationale and feasibility of incorporating work history information into patient electronic health records. NIOSH supports the plan announced by IOM and looks forward to providing input and information as appropriate.

IOM has posted a description of the study on the Web at An ad hoc committee will plan and hold data-gathering meetings, including a public workshop; conduct analysis; hold deliberations; and prepare a letter report with findings and recommendations.

“Inclusion of occupational information into electronic health records is vital to accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for an individual,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “As the Nation moves toward a 21st Century system of interoperable electronic records systems, NIOSH appreciates IOM’s partnership in agreeing to conduct a study on the challenges and opportunities for incorporating work history information into such systems.”

In its description of the study, IOM said it will address these questions:

  • Significance–What are the potential benefits to individual and public health of incorporating occupational information in electronic health records?
  • Current environment — Are there current systems which incorporate work history into the record in a manner which supports clinical decision making and public health reporting activities?
  • Technical issues–What are the perceived technical barriers to incorporating work history information into the patient’s electronic health record? What are the barriers to using current systems of coding industry and occupation? What are alternatives to current methods? How would the technical issues be best addressed by electronic health record system vendors and researchers?
  • Next steps–What steps are needed to advance this effort? What efforts by NIOSH in conjunction with government and non-governmental partners are needed?

NIOSH staff members have conferred with and will continue to provide information to the IOM consultants to help put into context the importance of including occupation and industry in the clinical record. They will participate in the workshop and look forward to learning from experts in occupational medicine, public health, health administration, and health information technology about the current state of the art and about strategies for moving forward to ensure that electronic health records support recognition, prevention, and surveillance of work-related illnesses and injuries.

NIOSH is the Federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injury, illness, and death. More information about NIOSH can be found at