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NHS IT system must use unique patient identifiers to achieve research potential

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39245.392523.DB (Published 14 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1238
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    The new NHS national programme for information technology (IT) must have research built in as a core task, says a report published this week. And it must use unique identifiers for each patient to enable data from different sources to be linked at the level of individual patients if it is to achieve its huge potential for clinical research.

    Researchers produced the recommendations after using simulations of clinical studies to test the system.

    The programme—the world's largest IT system—is designed to link different computer systems across the NHS, including an NHS care records service that will allow staff from different organisations to access the records of patients anywhere in England.

    It has been notorious …

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