Primary care data management
A unique partnership in data management to support primary care
The primary care departments of UMC Utrecht Julius Center, UMCG, and VUmc have joined forces to amass, process, and collectively manage anonymized healthcare data from a considerable number of family practices in the regions of Groningen/Drente/Friesland and the Kop van Overijssel, Utrecht, and Amsterdam/North Holland in their research databases in an identical, secure manner.
This identical infrastructure and method of amassing data will make merging data from the individual databases straightforward. Hence it will be possible to obtain reliable information on such things as the prevalence of disease among various patient groups, or to chart variation between practices and regions. The three departmental heads, Prof. Henriëtte van der Horst (VUmc), Prof. Marjolein Berger (UMCG), and Prof. Niek de Wit (UMC Utrecht Julius Center) see ample opportunities: “Large databases containing lots of patients and plenty of information on those patients will enable research on relatively rare diseases and identification of such things as predictors of cancer, meaning we might be able to make a diagnosis and offer suitable treatment earlier on.”
The university medical centers are collaborating with ICT service providers Calculus/Proigia and ZorgTTP for the purposes of the assistive technology. The database system has been set up in such a way that encryption ensures data cannot be associated with a patient’s identity, yet can be linked securely and responsibly to data from other information systems operated by such parties as hospitals, laboratory organizations, or local authorities. This will yield interesting opportunities in terms of (joint) research. Researchers will only be given access to data relevant to their research question. A panel of primary care physicians and scientists will assess the quality and relevance of the research proposals prior to the researchers being given access to the data. Moreover, the system presents the possibility of generating mirror information which can be used for improving the quality of healthcare, for policy support, and for educational purposes.
The three centers signed a partnership agreement with the aforementioned ICT service providers on Thursday October 26, 2017. Other primary care departments at the university medical centers are also interested in participating in the database infrastructure.