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Finding Patients in the Data

Being able to recruit patients to clinical trial based on data stored in their electronic health records has always been just out of reach, writes Dina Fine Maron at Scientific American. But, she adds, it may in hand soon as more and more healthcare providers, driven by federal incentives, have adopted EHRs, though challenges in getting various systems to play well together remain.

A Duke University clinical trial that's set to begin at the end of the year aims to leverage EHRs to recruit 20,000 people to a study examining what the daily dose of aspirin is best for people with heart disease.

"This will be the first study using this method but the aim is to do this across medicine, across health conditions and with both common and rare diseases," Adrian Hernandez, one of the Duke researchers, tells SciAm.

Maron adds that to make recruitment for this study work, data from seven healthcare systems will be fed into a program that can then search through the records, even if they come from different systems.