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by Yaneer Bar-Yam
Step VII: Use E-Records for Research
Research based on medical care data can help improve healthcare.

Also, since each person’s medical records may cover many years, we can learn about long term effects much more easily and cost-effectively by analyzing these available data than by conducting longitudinal studies on a particular therapy. Thus, we can use these data to discover long-term effects that may otherwise not be detected at all. 

Leveraging the availability of care data to increase our knowledge can’t and shouldn’t replace controlled studies or physician experience. But it can be a powerful and cost-effective tool, allowing us to utilize huge amounts of information and new methods of analysis to increase our medical knowledge, improving our ability to treat patients and take care of ourselves. 

Data—be they from study results or individual experiences—are the raw material that we use to build our medical knowledge. Gaining access to such a huge volume of new information about human health is like inventing a microscope that can see objects that are much smaller, or a telescope that can see much farther away. This new data can lead to many new discoveries.  

Analyses of these data would be an important addition to the medical research toolkit, augmenting traditional research methods.  

The governmental agencies that oversee various aspects of healthcare practice and research should work with medical organizations to make electronic medical records available in an anonymous, analyzable form. They should encourage use of this vast, important resource to propel our knowledge of medicine forward.

Next: Step VIII: Promote "First Day" Celebrations.

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