Methods for enhancing the reproducibility of observational research using electronic health records: preliminary findings from the CALIBER resource
The ability of external investigators to reproduce published scientific findings is critical for the evaluation and validation of health research by the wider community. However, a substantial proportion of health research using electronic health records, data collected and generated during routine clinical care, cannot be reproduced. With the complexity, volume and variety of electronic health records made available for research steadily increasing, it is critical to ensure that findings from such data are reproducible and replicable by researchers. Reporting guidelines like RECORD set an solid foundation by recommending a series of items for researchers to include in their research outputs. In this paper, we present some preliminary findings on how a series of methods and tools utilized in adjunct scientific disciplines can be used to enhance the reproducibility of research using electronic health records. We describe how these methods were applied in CALIBER, a resource linking primary care, hospital care and mortality EHR data in order to satisfy reporting requirements outlined in the RECORD guidelines.