10th Research Conference of the Catalan Health Institute discusses challenges in applying big data to improve health research 07 Jun 2018

Today’s post is by our colleagues from the Institute for Research in Primary Care (IDIAPJGol, Spain).

On 7 June 2018, the 10th Research conference of the Catalan Health Institute and the 11th Research conference of the Primary Care Research Institute IDIAPJGol were held in Barcelona (Spain).

Discussions focussed on the challenges in applying big data to improve health research. The conference convened health professionals from both primary and secondary care from overall Catalonia (Northeastern Spain) and researchers from institutes linked to the Catalan Health Institute: the Vall d’Hebron Research Institute, the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute, the Lleida Biomedical Research Institute’s Dr. Pifarré Foundation (IRBLleida), the Pere Virgili Institute (IISPV), the Girona Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBGI) and the Primary Care Research Institute IDIAPJGol.

The meeting provided a sound opportunity to engage with research conducted in the Catalan Health Institute and to exchange perspectives with other health professionals. While the morning was devoted to several oral communications and subsequent brief discussions, the afternoon offered workshops related to research methodology and communication of scientific findings.

Dr Irene Petersen (University College of London), imparted the inaugural talk entitled “The potential of real-world data for research: hopes and challenges”. Dr Petersen works at the Department of Primary Care and Population Health and has a broad experience working with large clinical databases. She has used data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database to conduct studies dealing with cardiovascular diseases, mental health and pregnancy.

Dr Anna Ponjoan, from the Primary Care Research Institute IDIAPJGol, addressed the application of real-world data to dementia studies. She highlighted new insights on the study of dementia using electronic health records, within the European project named “Real world Outcomes across the AD spectrum for better care: Multi-modal data Access Platform (ROADMAP)”. ROADMAP is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and aims to identify and pool Alzheimer’s disease related real-world data and establish solutions on how to combine different real-world data sources with data from randomized controlled trials.

Dr Ponjoan explained how IDIAPJGol is contributing to the ROADMAP project by examining data from the SIDIAP database. SIDIAP is the clinical database containing the electronical health records from almost 6 million patients that attended the primay care setting at the Catalan Health Institute.

Dr Ponjoan also presented a validation study that assessed the quality of dementia diagnoses recorded in SIDIAP. IDIAPJGol researchers looked for additional information – in other databases and through a survey with general practitioners – to confirm such diagnoses. The results highlighted that the accuracy of dementia diagnoses recorded in SIDIAP was satisfactory and thus these data could be used for research purposes. Finally, conclusions revealed that large clinical databases will generate new research methods, tools, opportunities and also new challenges to overcome, because real-world data has come to stay.

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