Data management is essential for efficient service delivery in the healthcare system. Clinical data repositories help healthcare facilities manage patient data by making it easily accessible.A clinical data repository  (CDR) is a database that unifies data from various sources for a single patient. These repositories are like data storage facilities that accept and display data in real time. These repositories have been shown to increase data access of patient health records due to their ease of use.The repositories contain data such as lab results, prescription information, admissions, and patient demographics. The CDRs collect and pool information from many health centers in a given radius.

Uses of Clinical Data Repositories

CDRs have helped ease access to information on patients and health trends. This has led to the following advantages.

Reducing antibiotic resistance

The micro bacteria that cause diseases are slowly evolving and becoming resistant to antibiotics. This is a big problem since it means that the conventional antibiotics are becoming useless in treating various types of diseases.One method used to curb the increase of the resistant bacteria is to reduce the prescription of the affected antibiotics.  Such a method was implemented by Harvard researchers to lower the growth of the drug resistant enterococci bacteria. The researchers used CDRs to monitor lab results and recommend alternative prescriptions instead of prescribing the affected vancomycin

Medical Research

Clinical data repositories are accessed by medical researchers to gain information on their research. Since the repositories contain the entire health records of patients, it becomes easier for medical researchers to deduce various trends and associations by querying data about a particular subject. Therefore, doctors can associate certain conditions with different diseases after analyzing the information on CDRs.

Clinical trials

CDRs are very useful in clinical trials as they help pharmaceutical companies to track the progress of their patients. The data repositories also assist other researchers that aim to improve on the drugs by having access to the clinical trials information.

Challenges

 

Although clinical data repositories help the healthcare community to access data, they do not provide analytics and hence a lot of time is wasted when generating reports. The repositories are usually just data storages. Therefore, in scenarios where one needs to compile and analyze data from the CDRs, it becomes a tedious task. Much of the time is spent gathering data from various records in the repository, which leaves very little time for improving the data so that it is accurate and presentable.

Clinical data repositories are also used to handle clinical data exclusively. They cannot be integrated with disparate systems that handle other forms of data such as patient’s financial records.

The CDRs also contain normalized tables which help in database maintenance and integrity. However, this becomes a challenge for people trying to compile reports using various data tables. Organizing clear and understandable data often requires one query the database and link multiple related tables.

Report presentation is also a challenge for the CDRs. Since a clinical data repository does not have the capability of analyzing data and generating reports, its users are forced to use other tools to perform this task. As such, similar reports or reports generated from the same data by different individuals might appear totally different. This makes the task of comparing different reports less efficient.

It is due to these challenges that more health analysts are opting for enterprise data warehouses.

Enterprise Data Warehouse

Enterprise data warehouses (EDW) help to deal with most of the challenges faced by CDRs. The data warehouses are like intelligent CDRs that can be assigned different tasks, such as generating reports and aggregating certain types of data. The data warehouses are well suited for reporting and data analysis.

The EDWs help to reduce the inefficiencies experienced on CDRs such as time wastage. Their ability to generate reports ensures that you get standardized reports that are easy to compare.