Clinical Research

Missing data values are always a pain in the neck.   Any measure of data quality and completeness has to contend with missing values.   In production systems such as EHRs that are used during the care process, missing values often occur more frequently than in research databases where quality checks are routinely performed (at least this […]


Wrestling with EHR Data Quality

by Jerome Carter on November 26, 2012 · 1 comment

Ensuring data quality is one of the main challenges faced by clinical database designers. Data quality in clinical applications built specifically for research purposes is protected by safeguards in the form of administrative policies and procedures along with software and database functions.  EHR systems are primarily patient care tools and often lack such safeguards. As […]

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Health care is information intensive and, when done properly, highly collaborative.    The increasing focus on data sharing and information exchange is an acknowledgement of the dependence of care delivery on clinician interaction.    However, while the current emphasis on richer communication is focused primarily on EHRs and clinical systems that support hands-on care, there are many […]


Pick one: EHRs lower costs/ EHRs do not lower costs; EHRs improve quality/ EHRs do not improve quality.   Each position has its proponents, and anyone who keeps up with happenings in the healthcare arena will invariably run into one of these positions.  Precepts from logic can help in explaining the disparity in viewpoints between the […]


EHR Data Accuracy—Should You Be Concerned?

by Jerome Carter on April 9, 2012 · 0 comments

When creating the EHR at UAB, I spent months working on the data model.   Much of that effort went into making sure that the data captured would be suitable for outcomes research.   Of course, the data model can only do so much to ensure data quality–what users choose to enter also plays a role. Anyone […]


The Nuances of Clinical Data

by Jerome Carter on January 30, 2012 · 2 comments

The hardest part of teaching clinical database design is helping students  grasp the need for precision in naming and representing data elements. Newbie modelers often assume that everyone will understand their data-capture assumptions  because–well, they’re obvious.   Experience has shown that having students attempt to merge data from multiple sources works well as the proverbial picture […]


An Informatics Course for Clinical Researchers

by Jerome Carter on December 7, 2011 · 4 comments

Since 2002, I have taught an introductory informatics course in a master’s degree program for clinical research.  The course consists of two components:  1) a two-day summer workshop that covers searching (MEDLINE and general internet) and software collaboration tools  and 2) a fall semester course that surveys biomedical informatics topics selected for their utility to […]