Data Mining: European nations will scour EHRs to detect drug side-effects faster

April 11, 2008

The US healthcare system could save lives if it possessed an early warning system for new drugs with unexpected side effects instead of waiting for complaints to roll into the FDA. Our friends across the Atlantic are developing such a system using EHRs.

The US healthcare system could save lives if it possessed an early warning system for new drugs with unexpected side effects instead of waiting for complaints to roll into the FDA. Our friends across the Atlantic are developing such asystem using EHRs.

The European Union is funding an initiative called the ALERT project that aims to detect  adverse drug effects by analyzing the electronic charts of more than 30 million patients in the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Eighteen research institutions across Europe will conduct the study of deidentified patient data, focusing on drug side effects in children.

The first phase of the project will last three and a half years.

The ALERT project is good example of what officials in the US Department of Healthand Human Services have in mind when they talk about a nationwide health informationnetwork. By monitoring everybody’s electronic charts, public health agenciescould spot not only drug side effects, but also outbreaks of infectious diseaseand biological terrorist attacks.