The main aim of the iCAREdata-project (Improving Care And Research Electronic Data Trust Antwerp) is to develop a central, clinical research database in out-of-hours (OOH) care in Belgium.
This is an opportunity to optimize the OOH care by linking data of primary care services in an interdisciplinary setting in the region of Antwerp. With this project, the research team of CHA-ELIZA is developing a state-of-the-art database, in sync with the most recent legal, ethical and privacy aspects present in Belgium and Europe.
One crucial aspect of the project is the unique way it links data between different health care services. Subsequently, we are able to study the chain of care that patients follow in OOH care. This gives a broader view on what is exactly happening with patients suffering an unplanned medical problem.
Researchers can consult the database after applying for access. Due to privacy rules, iCAREdata is only allowed to provide aggregated data. Researchers can find application conditions and procedures on procedure for researchers.
In 2003, out-of-hours (OOH) care in Belgium changed dramatically with the startup of the first General Practitioner Cooperative (Huisartsenwachtpost) in Antwerp.
Since that time, one of the research groups of CHA-ELIZA has been closely involved in research on OOH Primary Care. The doctoral thesis of Dr. Hilde Philips (2010) entitled 'Out-of-hours Primary Care in Belgium', was a first contribution to understanding in this topic.
Back then, collecting valid research data on patients using OOH services wasn’t an easy task. The quality and reliability of research was impacted upon by the diversity of caregivers, professional working in OOH primary care settings (pharmacists, specialist doctors in emergency departments and general practitioners) and the registration tools jeopardised qualitative and reliable research.
For this reason, CHA-ELIZA decided to apply for an FWO project in 2013, to finance the establishment and maintenance of a state-of-the-art research database on OOH care in Antwerp. In 2014, the funding was allocated by FWO as ‘medium scaled research infrastructure’ and the project was initiated.
Besides improving research on OOH care in Belgium, this project allows us to ameliorate the quality of data-entry. By doing so, the project not only serves as a scientific research, but also improves communication between care-givers, and this also benefits patients.
This project would not have been possible without the close collaboration with the Antwerp partners.
The Antwerp Project
iCAREdata is a project focussing on the large region of the city of Antwerp (520.000 inhabitants).
During this project (which will last 5 years), all four General Practitioner Cooperatives of Antwerp will join the project, as well as eight of the Emergency Departments of the City Hospitals, and most the Antwerp Pharmacies. This cooperation enables us to carefully check the feasibility of the project in a rather confined region, including linking the different databases, which makes this project unique. We have chosen to work in several stages of data gathering in close cooperation with our partners and software vendors.
At this stage, we receive requests from other regions in Flanders highly interested in the project, and who prefer to have their data stored in iCAREdata. Currently this is possible, and several Flemish GPCs from outside the region of Antwerp joined the project.
Our aim is to include as many partners as possible in OOH care in Flanders. This way the database becomes more valid for scientific research and gives useful feedback to the partners involved, enabling them to improve registration and patient care. For us, this shows the impact of iCAREdata in the field.
iCAREdata is a research database aiming at scientific research activities. Researchers or research teams interested in OOH care are welcome to use it.
You can find the procedures for accessing icare data on our website on procedure for researchers. Researchers can send their questions to the Steering Committee, or contact one of the icare data members to consult on the possibilities. More detailed information can be found on our website.
Research in progress
- From April 2016 until March 2018, our research group will consult the iCAREdata database for the research project on Telephone Triage in Belgium, which is funded by the Belgian Government and the NIHDI.
- Several students from the University of Antwerp will also be using the iCAREdata database for their master’s theses.