Using electronic health records could have a definitive impact on the way clinical trials are conducted in the future, according to a Swansea University Medical School study.
Cost and availability of resources often limit study of treatment in question beyond a two-year time frame. However the rise of electronic health records can allow data analysts a quicker, far more cost-effective means of accessing data collected during routine health care, allowing for lengthier examination of a given treatment.
Swansea researchers sought to look at the feasibility and efficiency of electronic follow up compared to traditional follow up. Researchers reviewed data collected during the course of routine health care stored in the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) database to revisit a trial that investigated the use of probiotics taken during pregnancy and the incidence of childhood asthma and eczema. The study found that 96 percent of participants — children ages 6 months to 2 years in the initial trial — were located in the SAIL database. Of that number, more than 87 percent were suitable for meaningful follow up at five years.
Findings indicated the potential for more complete trial results at a minimal cost using electronic records.
“We gained new insights from outcomes electronically recorded three years after the end of the trial, and could then identify the differences between trial data and electronic data,” study leader Sue Jordan said in a Science Business article.
Other key findings included a reduced risk of bias, unreliability or inaccuracy from participant recall through electronic follow up and improved retention among children from lower socioeconomic groups using the electronic database.