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  1. Costello, Rebecca B. PhD
  2. Deuster, Patricia A. PhD, MPH
  3. Michael, Madeline MPH, RD
  4. Utech, Anne PhD, RDN, LD


Of importance to federal agencies that administer healthcare facilities is capturing patient use of dietary supplements (DSs) to avoid potential drug-supplement interactions. Digital technologies, such as use of the electronic medical record and the electronic health record (EHR), are key to monitoring healthcare. The particular electronic software package and the healthcare professional using this software influence how this documentation is recorded. A survey was conducted to determine how information on DSs is being collected, recorded, and processed in EHRs across federal agencies. Four federal agencies providing direct healthcare services to large numbers of men and women in the United States were surveyed on current practices regarding the recording and processing of information on DS use on either an outpatient or inpatient basis. A point of contact for each of the following federal agencies was identified, and a 13-question survey was sent to each for completion: National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Department of Defense Military Nutrition Committee, Veterans Health Administration Office of Specialty Care Services, and Indian Health Service, Office of Information Technology. All 4 agency representatives completed the survey. No agency used the same EHR software reporting system. Most EHRs have searchable fields that are in a structured format, but some information is free text and allowed entry by multiple members of the healthcare team. Three different medication formulary or drug knowledge databases were used across the agencies. Most agencies using EHR management systems have adequately described procedures for entering and charting information on DSs. The responsibility for charting, however, varies across agencies whether captured by the admitting doctor, nurse, dietitian, or pharmacist. Direct linkage between the pharmacy system and the drug knowledge database is a feature of the EHR for several but not all federal agencies. An unmet need still exists in the EHR to implement DS/drug interaction checks as many DS products have multiple active ingredients and, when taken with other DSs or prescription drugs, increase the likelihood of an adverse event. Establishing common EHR practices could facilitate monitoring the use and potential interactions of DSs with prescribed drugs.