Objectives: To summarize key contributions to current research in the field of Clinical Research Informatics (CRI) and to select best papers published in 2015.
Method: A bibliographic search using a combination of MeSH and free terms search over PubMed on Clinical Research Informatics (CRI) was performed followed by a double-blind review in order to select a list of candidate best papers to be then peer-reviewed by external reviewers. A consensus meeting between the two section editors and the editorial team was finally organized to conclude on the selection of best papers.
Results: Among the 579 returned papers published in the past year in the various areas of Clinical Research Informatics (CRI) - i) methods supporting clinical research, ii) data sharing and interoperability, iii) re-use of healthcare data for research, iv) patient recruitment and engagement, v) data privacy, security and regulatory issues and vi) policy and perspectives - the full review process selected four best papers. The first selected paper evaluates the capability of the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) Operational Data Model (ODM) to support the representation of case report forms (in both the design stage and with patient level data) during a complete clinical study lifecycle. The second selected paper describes a prototype for secondary use of electronic health records data captured in non-standardized text. The third selected paper presents a privacy preserving electronic health record linkage tool and the last selected paper describes how big data use in US relies on access to health information governed by varying and often misunderstood legal requirements and ethical considerations.
Conclusions: A major trend in the 2015 publications is the analysis of observational, "nonexperimental" information and the potential biases and confounding factors hidden in the data that will have to be carefully taken into account to validate new predictive models. In addiction, researchers have to understand complicated and sometimes contradictory legal requirements and to consider ethical obligations in order to balance privacy and promoting discovery.
Keywords: Medical informatics; biomedical research; clinical research informatics; patient selection; phenotyping.