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The use of routinely collected computer data for research in primary care: opportunities and challenges.

de Lusignan, S and van Weel, C (2006) The use of routinely collected computer data for research in primary care: opportunities and challenges. Fam Pract, 23 (2). pp. 253-263.

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Routinely collected primary care data has underpinned research that has helped define primary care as a specialty. In the early years of the discipline, data were collected manually, but digital data collection now makes large volumes of data readily available. Primary care informatics is emerging as an academic discipline for the scientific study of how to harness these data. This paper reviews how data are stored in primary care computer systems; current use of large primary care research databases; and, the opportunities and challenges for using routinely collected primary care data in research. OPPORTUNITIES: (1) Growing volumes of routinely recorded data. (2) Improving data quality. (3) Technological progress enabling large datasets to be processed. (4) The potential to link clinical data in family practice with other data including genetic databases. (5) An established body of know-how within the international health informatics community. CHALLENGES: (1) Research methods for working with large primary care datasets are limited. (2) How to infer meaning from data. (3) Pace of change in medicine and technology. (4) Integrating systems where there is often no reliable unique identifier and between health (person-based records) and social care (care-based records-e.g. child protection). (5) Achieving appropriate levels of information security, confidentiality, and privacy. CONCLUSION: Routinely collected primary care computer data, aggregated into large databases, is used for audit, quality improvement, health service planning, epidemiological study and research. However, gaps exist in the literature about how to find relevant data, select appropriate research methods and ensure that the correct inferences are drawn.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Surrey Business School
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
de Lusignan, SUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
van Weel, CUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : April 2006
Identification Number : https://doi.org/10.1093/fampra/cmi106
Uncontrolled Keywords : Biomedical Research, Data Collection, Databases as Topic, Humans, Medical Informatics, Medical Records Systems, Computerized, National Health Programs, Netherlands, Primary Health Care
Additional Information : This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Family Practice following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Fam Prac 2006 23: 253-263 is available online at the Family Practice website.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 23 Feb 2012 11:36
Last Modified : 28 Mar 2017 15:05
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/191653

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