Editorials

Maximising research opportunities of new NHS information systems

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39364.586146.80 (Published 17 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:106
  1. Nick Black, professor of health services research
  1. 1Health Services Research Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London WC1E 7HT
  1. Nick.Black{at}lshtm.ac.uk

    Don’t ignore the potential of health services research

    Amid all the controversy and debate around the introduction of a new national information technology programme for the English National Health Service (NHS), the needs of researchers for information have been largely ignored while—perhaps understandably—the immediate needs of clinicians, administrators, managers, and policymakers have been prioritised.

    Reluctance to consider the needs of researchers may also reflect managers’ fears of a loss of control of the data and the public’s and politicians’ concerns about breaches of confidentiality. Whatever the reason, researchers and research funders are increasingly concerned that the people responsible for designing the new system lack awareness of the potential research uses of routinely collected healthcare data. This is despite at least three recent documents showing the benefits of such data to the NHS and public health,123 and examples of successful relationships between health systems and researchers, such as is seen in the United States4 and Canada.5

    A further attempt to demonstrate the value of routine data for research has recently been made by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (a partnership of all major funders of clinical research) …

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