BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making DOI: https://bmcmedinformdecismak.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12911-020-1082-7
Alex Bottle 1, Carole Cohen 2, Amanda Lucas 2, Kavitha Saravanakumar 2, Zia Ul-Haq 2, Wayne Smith 2, Azeem Majeed 3, Paul
1 Dr Foster Unit, Imperial College London, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, 3 Dorset Rise, London, EC4Y 8EN, UK. firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Imperial College Health Partners, London, UK.
3 Dr Foster Unit, Imperial College London, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, 3 Dorset Rise, London, EC4Y 8EN, UK.
Background: In the UK, several initiatives have resulted in the creation of local data warehouses of electronic patient records. Originally developed for commissioning and direct patient care, they are potentially useful for research, but little is known about them outside their home area. We describe one such local warehouse, the Whole Systems Integrated Care (WSIC) database in NW London, and its potential for research as the “Discover” platform. We compare Discover with the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a popular UK research database also based on linked primary care records.
Methods: We describe the key features of the Discover database, including scope, architecture and governance; descriptive analyses compare the population demographics and chronic disease prevalences with those in CPRD.
Results: As of June 2019, Discover held records for a total of 2.3 million currently registered patients, or 95% of the NW London population; CPRD held records for over 11 million. The Discover population matches the overall age-sex distribution of the UK and CPRD but is more ethnically diverse. Most Discover chronic disease prevalences were comparable to the national rates. Unlike CPRD, Discover has identifiable care organisations and postcodes, allowing mapping and linkage to healthcare provider variables such as staffing, and includes contacts with social, community and mental health care. Discover also includes a consent-to-contact register of over 3000 volunteers to date for prospective studies.
Conclusions: Like CPRD, Discover has been a number of years in the making, is a valuable research tool, and can serve as a model for other areas developing similar data warehouses.