Vital Times 2017 - 58

ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY

Precision, Accuracy, and the
Road to Patient-Centered Care
By	Theodora	Wingert	MD,	Ira	Hofer	MD

ost recent estimates from the National Center
for Health Statistics show electronic health
record (EHR) are used by 78 percent of office-based
physicians, as of 2013.1 And in the inpatient setting, the
American Hospital Association estimates EHR use of
around 44 percent.3 It will take time to know more up
to date numbers, but the penetrance of these tools has
undoubtedly increased as of 2017.

M

This task is frequently termed "Precision Medicine",
and while often discussed in the lay press, it still seems
distant to those of us who are caring for patients every
day. Current EHRs are loaded with data that can be used
for a plethora of diagnostic, therapeutic, and translational
research purposes. However, a major obstacle to taking
full advantage of this resource is ensuring that the data
coming from EHRs are both accurate and precise.

Considering these statistics, the amount of data already
housed in these EHR systems is astronomical and
growing exponentially. The next major step is turning
these data points into information that can be utilized to
improve healthcare on both the individual and system
level.

Accuracy and precision are often used interchangeably,
but it is useful to discuss the statistical and scientific
meaning of these terms. In the context of science
and engineering, accuracy is generally defined as the
degree of closeness of a measured entity to that entity's
true value.4 In other words, accuracy is reflective of

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