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Why a dearth of sports and exercise medicine/physiotherapy research using hospital electronic medical records? A success story and template for researchers
  1. Gustavo C Machado1,2,
  2. Mary O'Keeffe2,
  3. Bethan Richards2,3,
  4. Chris Needs3,
  5. Hannah Storey4,
  6. Chris G Maher1,2
  1. 1 Sydney School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 Institute of Rheumatology and Orthopaedics, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4 Performance Monitoring, Systems Improvement & Innovation Unit, Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gustavo C Machado, Institute for Musculoskeletal Health, Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; gustavo.machado{at}sydney.edu.au

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In hospital systems, large volumes of data are routinely collected in digital form. Advances in electronic medical record systems have created digital health data that are well coded and structured, as well as unstructured data such as clinical notes and medical images. These data have value for researchers aiming to improve the quality of healthcare.

Five barriers limit our ability to use and access electronic medical record data for research:

  1. Data are stored across numerous data tables, in a variety of formats, within fragmented or siloed data systems.

  2. Data quality is inconsistent (and at times poor). There are inaccuracies in recording, such as duplicate entries, missing data and incorrect diagnosis codes.

  3. Efficient tools to quickly identify, link and capture relevant electronic medical record data are scarce.

  4. Bureaucratic layers of governance, complex ethics approval processes and privacy legislation restrictions slow research.

  5. Data collected for administrative or compliance purposes may not contain relevant research outcomes.

These barriers mean that, with respect to sports injuries, for example, there are relatively few studies that describe the patterns or the quality and safety of healthcare using hospital-based electronic medical record data,1 2 although these injuries are commonly seen in outpatient clinics, emergency departments and inpatient wards.

Using technology to find relevant data

We report opportunities to use electronic medical record data …

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @gustavocmachado, @MaryOKeeffe007, @CGMMaher

  • Contributors GCM conceived and drafted the editorial. BR and CN provided expertise in electronic medical record systems. HS provided expertise in business intelligence technology. MOK and CGM provided expertise in low back pain research. All authors read and approved the final editorial.

  • Funding The authors have received funding from the Sydney Local Health District and Sydney Health Partners for the developement of the STARS low back pain dashboard.

  • Competing interests GCM and CGM are funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. MOK is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. Qlik provided training on Qlik Sense but were not involved in the preparation or review of the editorial.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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