The U.S. is fully invested in electronic health records, and now it’s time to get more serious about using clinical data to support research, according to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

In a paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) and titled, “Reimagining the research-practice relationship: policy recommendations for informatics-enabled evidence-generation across the US health system,” AMIA authors recommend a dozen public policies that could help get the data being driven in clinical settings into the hands of researchers.


Data-driven healthcare “is now within reach, and holds great promise,” AMIA authors wrote. “However, despite the unprecedented volumes of clinical data generated each day across hospitals, physician offices, urgent care facilities, and neighborhood walk-in clinics, the ability to leverage these data to increase our knowledge of health and disease and drive improvements in care remain overwhelmingly unrealized.”


AMIA urges the federal government to write policies that would:

  • Reimburse and incentivize providers to use their clinical data for research
  • Enable patients and doctors to determine how the data is used for research, while also giving them access to research results.
  • Make it easier to launch clinical research across organizations
  • Ensure the sustainability of a “national research ecosystem”

In addition, AMIA offered  list of activities for the federal government that have heretofore been neglected and would move the research forward, and include:

  • “Faithfully implement” 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 provisions for evidence generation
  • Establish the Research Policy Board, also mandated by the Cures Act, to align research regulations
  • Refine the definition of a HIPAA Designated Record Set
  • Explore ways to give patients a full digital export of their structured and unstructured data


“Increasingly, clinical care activities generate the data foundations for biomedical and health services research,” said paper lead author and AMIA Board Chair, Peter Embi, MD, president and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute. “If we are to realize the promise of our national investment in health IT, we must reimagine how research relates to clinical practice – and vice versa – so that we can learn systematically from each healthcare encounter, facilitate biomedical discovery, and advance our collective understanding of health. This is core to evidence-generating medicine and the creation of learning health systems.”

Diana Manos is a Washington, D.C.-area freelance writer specializing in healthcare, wellness and technology. 

Twitter: @Diana_Manos
Email the writer: [email protected] 

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication. 

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