Electronic health record-triggered research infrastructure combining real-world electronic health record data and patient-reported outcomes to detect benefits, risks, and impact of medication: Development study

Karin Hek*, Leàn Rolfes, Eugène P van Puijenbroek, Linda E Flinterman, Saskia Vorstenbosch, Liset Van Dijk, Robert A Verheij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Real-world data from electronic health records (EHRs) represent a wealth of information for studying the benefits and risks of medical treatment. However, they are limited in scope and should be complemented by information from the patient perspective.

The aim of this study is to develop an innovative research infrastructure that combines information from EHRs with patient experiences reported in questionnaires to monitor the risks and benefits of medical treatment.

We focused on the treatment of overactive bladder (OAB) in general practice as a use case. To develop the Benefit, Risk, and Impact of Medication Monitor (BRIMM) infrastructure, we first performed a requirement analysis. BRIMM’s starting point is routinely recorded general practice EHR data that are sent to the Dutch Nivel Primary Care Database weekly. Patients with OAB were flagged weekly on the basis of diagnoses and prescriptions. They were invited subsequently for participation by their general practitioner (GP), via a trusted third party. Patients received a series of questionnaires on disease status, pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments, adverse drug reactions, drug adherence, and quality of life. The questionnaires and a dedicated feedback portal were developed in collaboration with a patient association for pelvic-related diseases, Bekkenbodem4All. Participating patients and GPs received feedback. An expert meeting was organized to assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the new research infrastructure.

The BRIMM infrastructure was developed and implemented. In the Nivel Primary Care Database, 2933 patients with OAB from 27 general practices were flagged. GPs selected 1636 (55.78%) patients who were eligible for the study, of whom 295 (18.0% of eligible patients) completed the first questionnaire. A total of 288 (97.6%) patients consented to the linkage of their questionnaire data with their EHR data. According to experts, the strengths of the infrastructure were the linkage of patient-reported outcomes with EHR data, comparison of pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments, flexibility of the infrastructure, and low registration burden for GPs. Methodological weaknesses, such as susceptibility to bias, patient selection, and low participation rates among GPs and patients, were seen as weaknesses and threats. Opportunities represent usefulness for policy makers and health professionals, conditional approval of medication, data linkage to other data sources, and feedback to patients.

The BRIMM research infrastructure has the potential to assess the benefits and safety of (medical) treatment in real-life situations using a unique combination of EHRs and patient-reported outcomes. As patient involvement is an important aspect of the treatment process, generating knowledge from clinical and patient perspectives is valuable for health care providers, patients, and policy makers. The developed methodology can easily be applied to other treatments and health problems.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33250
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • adverse drug reaction
  • General Practice
  • Patient-reported outcome
  • electronic health record
  • overactive bladder
  • research infrastructure
  • learning health system


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