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Using electronic health records for clinical research: The case of the EHR4CR project

By De Moor G et al.


To describe the IMI EHR4CR project which is designing and developing, and aims to demonstrate, a scalable, widely acceptable and efficient approach to interoperability between EHR systems and clinical research systems.  

The IMI EHR4CR project is combining and extending several previously isolated state-of-the-art technical components through a new approach to develop a platform for reusing EHR data to support medical research. This will be achieved through multiple but unified initiatives across different major disease areas (e.g. cardiovascular, cancer) and clinical research use cases (protocol feasibility, patient identification and recruitment, clinical trial execution and serious adverse event reporting), with various local and national stakeholders across several countries and therefore under various legal frameworks.  

An initial instance of the platform has been built, providing communication, security and terminology services to the eleven participating hospitals and ten pharmaceutical companies located in seven European countries. Proof-of-concept demonstrators have been built and evaluated for the protocol feasibility and patient recruitment scenarios. The specifications of the clinical trial execution and the adverse event reporting scenarios have been documented and reviewed.  

Through a combination of a consortium that brings collectively many years of experience from previous relevant EU projects and of the global conduct of clinical trials, of an approach to ethics that engages many important stakeholders across Europe to ensure acceptability, of a robust iterative design methodology for the platform services that is anchored on requirements of an underlying Service Oriented Architecture that has been designed to be scalable and adaptable, EHR4CR could be well placed to deliver a sound, useful and well accepted pan-European solution for the reuse of hospital EHR data to support clinical research studies.  

De Moor G et al. Using electronic health records for clinical research: The case of the EHR4CR project. J Biomed Inform (2014),