Using electronic health records to understand the best available treatment for patients, from a range of possible options, is more efficient and less costly than the existing clinical trial process, a new study from the UK shows.
The researchers looked at the use of statins in 300 people with high risk of cardiovascular disease by tracking their electronic medical records (EHRs). The study was published in the journal Health Technology Assessment.
A second part of the study involved 31 participants and looked at the use of antibiotics in those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Researchers installed a new computer program in 23 approved general practitioner surgeries across England and Scotland. The program was able to identify which patients were eligible to take part and allowed doctors to sign up relevant participants.
Researchers then used the patients’ EHRs, as recorded in the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, the NHS observational data and interventional research service, to monitor the impact of the treatments they had been prescribed. By studying these records, researchers are able to understand health patterns in relation to specific medications with potentially much larger and more diverse members of the public, and to understand which treatment offers the best results. The research is conducted with minimal impact on the lives of the patients who, after offering their consent are not required to have any active involvement, according to the researchers.