July 2010


Enabling research in general practice

Increasing functionality of electronic medical records

Volume 39, No.7, July 2010 Pages 506-509

Jacqueline Young

Diann S Eley

Paul Fahey

Elizabeth Patterson

Desley Hegney


With an estimated 80% of Australians visiting a general practitioner at least once a year, the data generated by GPs is a rich source of the overall health profile of patients. However, this data is rarely used to report on health outcomes.


This article reports on the use of remote access of electronic medical records (EMRs) for the purpose of collecting data during a collaborative research project involving the staff of three general practices and an external research team.


Throughout the project numerous benefits to remotely accessing general practice EMRs were identified. However, there remain some difficulties which need to be addressed. An increased functionality of the software programs used in general practice is required, along with improvements in the utilisation of the software capabilities. Collaboration between clinicians, researchers and clinical software developers will be vital to advance this process.

A prospective randomised control trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a nurse led model of care in general practice1 required researchers to remotely access 285 individual electronic medical records (EMRs) from three general practices. In this article the term ‘EMR’, is defined as an electronic record of patient information maintained in one practice.2

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