Clinical Research Informatics and Electronic Health Record Data
The goal of this paper is to discuss the effects of the availability of electronic health record (EHR) data for the purpose of Clinical Research Informatics (CRI). This paper points out that the use of EHR for research and discovery is still a growing area within CRI, which combines both research and biomedical informatics. 
After a review of literature from the fields of informatics and clinical research, important themes were isolated related to the use of EHR for research. They included: the heterogeneity and data quality of EHR, integrating data from various organizations, identifying research cohorts based on explicit clinical profiles, and the role of informatics in a learning health system. A set of considerations also emerged from these themes as a tool for coping with the challenges in the present and guiding improvements in the future.
Challenges to consider for research regarding EHR data:
- Data on a cohort's outcomes may be limited
- EHR adoption in healthcare is growing
- The quality of data will always be an issue
- Is it important to have data that is valid
- Billing needs as well as clinical care will be reflected in EHR data
- Teamwork is required in order to obtain data using observational research
Major challenges for the use of EHR-derived data for research
- The lack of standard methods for ensuring that data quality, completeness, and provenance
- Need appropriate methods for data integration from heterogeneous sources
- Need guidelines for using these data
- Need governance to better understand and control data quality
- Need nationwide standards for representing and using clinical data
Awareness of the process of collecting clinical data will be essential in the use of this data for clinical research and patient care, which will require a multi-disciplinary team representing clinical research, informatics, and health care operations. A set of principles are provided, related to research design, to cope with the issues of leveraging EHR data for various research. When using EHR data points, it is essential for one to attempt to understand the workflow that created them, especially if there is no strong program for data governance.
The use of EHR data for clinical research is an essential part of the healthcare system that aids in quality improvement and treatment goals. This paper surveys the growing availability of EHR data for clinical research purposes and makes recommendations on how to deal with the challenges that arise with its use.
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- Health informatics
- A comparison of a multistate inpatient EHR database to the HCUP Nationwide Inpatient Sample
- Richesson, R. L., Horvath, M. M., & Rusincovitch, S. A. (2014). Clinical research informatics and electronic health record data. Yearbook of medical informatics, 9(1), 215.