Differences in Health Professionals’ Engagement With Electronic Health Records Based on Inpatient Race and Ethnicity

Chao Yan, Xinmeng Zhang, Yuyang Yang, Kaidi Kang, Martin C. Were, Peter Embí, Mayur B. Patel, Bradley A. Malin*, Abel N. Kho*, You Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE US health professionals devote a large amount of effort to engaging with patients’ electronic health records (EHRs) to deliver care. It is unknown whether patients with different racial and ethnic backgrounds receive equal EHR engagement. OBJECTIVE To investigate whether there are differences in the level of health professionals’ EHR engagement for hospitalized patients according to race or ethnicity during inpatient care. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This cross-sectional study analyzed EHR access log data from 2 major medical institutions, Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and Northwestern Medicine (NW Medicine), over a 3-year period from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2020. The study included all adult patients (aged ≥18 years) who were discharged alive after hospitalization for at least 24 hours. The data were analyzed between August 15, 2022, and March 15, 2023. EXPOSURES The actions of health professionals in each patient’s EHR were based on EHR access log data. Covariates included patients’ demographic information, socioeconomic characteristics, and comorbidities. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES The primary outcome was the quantity of EHR engagement, as defined by the average number of EHR actions performed by health professionals within a patient’s EHR per hour during the patient’s hospital stay. Proportional odds logistic regression was applied based on outcome quartiles. RESULTS A total of 243 416 adult patients were included from VUMC (mean [SD] age, 51.7 [19.2] years; 54.9% female and 45.1% male; 14.8% Black, 4.9% Hispanic, 77.7% White, and 2.6% other races and ethnicities) and NW Medicine (mean [SD] age, 52.8 [20.6] years; 65.2% female and 34.8% male; 11.7% Black, 12.1% Hispanic, 69.2% White, and 7.0% other races and ethnicities). When combining Black, Hispanic, or other race and ethnicity patients into 1 group, these patients were significantly less likely to receive a higher amount of EHR engagement compared with White patients (adjusted odds ratios, 0.86 [95% CI, 0.83-0.88; P < .001] for VUMC and 0.90 [95% CI, 0.88-0.92; P < .001] for NW Medicine). However, a reduction in this difference was observed from 2018 to 2020. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE In this cross-sectional study of inpatient EHR engagement, the findings highlight differences in how health professionals distribute their efforts to patients’ EHRs, as well as a method to measure these differences. Further investigations are needed to determine whether and how EHR engagement differences are correlated with health care outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2336383
JournalJAMA network open
StatePublished - Oct 2 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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