Database collaboration seeks to enable better long-term outcomes

A database collaboration between the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons will link clinical data and allow for tracking of long-term patient outcomes.

According to STS research center Director Fred Edwards, M.D., the collaboration will enable STS to better understand how patients fare years after procedures.

"Currently, the STS National Database has clinical data that are all short-term," Edwards said in an announcement. "The data include patient outcomes in the hospital and, at most, what happens up to 30 days after discharge."

The outcomes will include hospital readmission rates, re-interventions and long-term survival rates. Having this sort of data allows for individualized care based on data from patients physicians have had before with similar symptoms.

The partnership is the first of its kind for specialty medical societies, according to STS, and will help with evaluations of the overall cost of patient care. With quick access to data, researchers can conduct comparativeness effectiveness studies. Currently, the STS national database is the largest cardiothoracic surgery outcomes and quality improvement database in the world, with 5.2 million procedures documented.

"STS will be able to create more accurate and up-to-date risk models and long-term survival calculators for individual procedures," David Shahian, M.D., chair of the STS Workforce on National Databases, said in the announcement. "Surgeons would be able to estimate survival probability for patients based on their specific illness severity, co-existing medical conditions, and symptoms. This is particularly important for patients as they research treatment options and work with their physician teams to select the care they feel is best."

Similarly, a consortium of universities and hospital systems in South Carolina last fall started using a database containing the medical information of millions of patients across the state with the intent of developing better, more cost-effective treatment plans.

The $15 million database--dubbed the Clinical Data Warehouse--is housed at Clemson University and operated by Health Sciences South Carolina in Columbia. The funds came from the Duke Endowment.

Last summer, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center researchers were able to electronically integrate clinical and genomic information on 140 breast cancer patients through use of a data warehouse. 

To learn more:
- read the announcement from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons

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