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The Kaiser Permanente Northern California Adult Alcohol Registry, an Electronic Health Records-Based Registry of Patients With Alcohol Problems: Development and Implementation

Electronic health record (EHR)-based disease registries have aided health care professionals and researchers in increasing their understanding of chronic illnesses, including identifying patients with (or at risk of developing) conditions and tracking treatment progress and recovery. Despite excessive alcohol use being a major contributor to the global burden of disease and disability, no registries of alcohol problems exist. EHR-based data in Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC), an integrated health system that conducts systematic alcohol screening, which provides specialty addiction medicine treatment internally and has a membership of over 4 million members that are highly representative of the US population with access to care, provide a unique opportunity to develop such a registry. Our objectives were to describe the development and implementation of a protocol for assembling the KPNC Adult Alcohol Registry, which may be useful to other researchers and health systems, and to characterize the registry cohort descriptively, including underlying health conditions. Inclusion criteria were adult members with unhealthy alcohol use (using National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines), an alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnosis, or an alcohol-related health problem between June 1, 2013, and May 31, 2019. We extracted patients’ longitudinal, multidimensional EHR data from 1 year before their date of eligibility through May 31, 2019, and conducted descriptive analyses. We identified 723,604 adult patients who met the registry inclusion criteria at any time during the study period: 631,780 with unhealthy alcohol use, 143,690 with an AUD diagnosis, and 18,985 with an alcohol-related health problem. We identified 65,064 patients who met two or more criteria. Of the 4,973,195 adult patients with at least one encounter with the health system during the study period, the prevalence of unhealthy alcohol use was 13% (631,780/4,973,195), the prevalence of AUD diagnoses was 3% (143,690/4,973,195), and the prevalence of alcohol-related health problems was 0.4% (18,985/4,973,195). The registry cohort was 60% male (n=432,847) and 41% non-White (n=295,998) and had a median age of 41 years (IQR=27). About 48% (n=346,408) had a chronic medical condition, 18% (n=130,031) had a mental health condition, and 4% (n=30,429) had a drug use disorder diagnosis. We demonstrated that EHR-based data collected during clinical care within an integrated health system could be leveraged to develop a registry of patients with alcohol problems that is flexible and can be easily updated. The registry’s comprehensive patient-level data over multiyear periods provides a strong foundation for robust research addressing critical public health questions related to the full course and spectrum of alcohol problems, including recovery, which would complement other methods used in alcohol research (eg, population-based surveys, clinical trials).

Authors: Palzes VA; Weisner C; Chi FW; Kline-Simon AH; Satre DD; Hirschtritt ME; Ghadiali M; Sterling S

JMIR Med Inform. 2020 Jul 22;8(7):e19081. Epub 2020-07-22.

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