A solid foundation of evidence of the effects of an intervention is a prerequisite of evidence-based medicine. The best source of such evidence is considered to be randomized trials, which are able to avoid confounding. However, they may not always estimate effectiveness in clinical practice. Databases that collate anonymized electronic health records (EHRs) from different clinical centres have been widely used for many years in observational studies. Randomized point-of-care trials have been initiated recently to recruit and follow patients using the data from EHR databases. In this review, we describe how EHR databases can be used for conducting large-scale simple trials and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of their use.
Keywords: clinical trials; epidemiology.
© 2014 The Association for the Publication of the Journal of Internal Medicine.