Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


In medicine as in other fields, good decisions depend on good data. Existing information systems across Europe use representations of data that are different, and often incompatible and misleading. There can be a considerable amount of error, redundancy and insufficiency in the patient data. There is consequently a problem in getting the best value from existing data and systems, and one of the objectives of research and development programmes in information and telecommunications technology is to improve quality and increase harmonisation across Europe to facilitate this.

The primary requisite is that the patient data be accurate and correspond to reality, be significant and relevant to the decisions to be taken, and sufficient by including all the elements required. It is necessary to improve the description, understanding and use of these terms, for implementation among all users in the health care sector.

Getting information from health care data also depends on representations of real life which include coding systems, groupings of units, and means of quantifying individual items and assemblies of data, and a means of ensuring that data quality is maintained. Many elements in common clinical usage arose before the widespread evolution of computers, and data quality is often only expressible in everyday language. A result is that many clinical coding systems have arisen and non are optimised to provide a transformable syntax to describe any required clinical event, its data content, relationship to knowledge, in a time-sequential and provably-correct syntax. Another result of this historical development is that is is difficult to build such descriptors as quality, severity, immediacy and urgency into existing codes.
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