Electronic health records help researchers harness data
New initiatives are establishing how electronic health records connected to shared databases can be used by scientists to conduct comparative effectiveness research (CER). These initiatives are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and managed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Effective Health Care Program.
One initiative, the Electronic Data Methods Forum, was established to advance the national dialog on use of electronic clinical data to conduct CER, improve care quality, and develop clinical decision support systems. The Forum commissioned national experts to write articles that are featured in a special supplement of the July 2012 issue of Medical Care, the official journal of the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association. The articles are available for free at http://journals.lww.com/lww-medicalcare/toc/2012/07001 .
The articles address the challenges of building infrastructure for CER with electronic clinical data. Obstacles and opportunities related to analytic methods, clinical informatics, and data governance are highlighted. The analytic methods papers address challenges on how to assess data quality and approaches to developing cohorts for CER studies. The clinical informatics papers examine the capabilities and limitations of different informatics platforms to perform CER and practical considerations when using new clinical informatics approaches. The data governance papers address approaches to protect patients' confidentiality and privacy and to facilitate multisite Institutional Review Board approval for CER.
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