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Research Letter |

Documentation and Diagnosis of Overweight and Obesity in Electronic Health Records of Adult Primary Care Patients

Heather J. Baer, SD1,2,3; Andrew S. Karson, MD, MPH2,4; Jane R. Soukup, MSc1; Deborah H. Williams, MHA1; David W. Bates, MD, MSc1,2,5,6
[+] Author Affiliations
1Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
2Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
3Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
4Clinical Decision Support Unit, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
5Partners HealthCare, Boston, Massachusetts
6Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(17):1648-1652. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.7815.
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Almost 69% of US adults are either overweight or obese (body mass index [BMI], calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared, ≥25),1 yet clinicians often fail to diagnose overweight and obesity or discuss weight management with their patients.26 Many clinicians use electronic health records (EHRs), and adoption of EHRs has been increasing since the introduction of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act in 2009.7 Electronic recording of vital signs—including height, weight, and BMI—is now one of the requirements for achieving “meaningful use” of EHRs,8 but few studies have examined rates of BMI documentation and diagnosis of overweight and obesity in EHR data. We conducted a retrospective study to examine these rates in the EHRs of adult primary care patients before the passing of the HITECH Act in 2009.

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