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Dore DD, Myles L, Recker A, Burns D, Rogers Murray C, Gifford D, Mor V. The Long-Term Care Data Cooperative: The Next Generation of Data Integration. Journal of The American Medical Directors Association. 2022 Dec 1; 23(12):2031-2033.
Despite important advances in the linkage of residents'' Medicare claims and Minimum Data Set (MDS) information, the data infrastructure for long-term care remains inadequate for public health surveillance and clinical research. It is widely known that the evidence base supporting treatment decisions for older nursing home residents is scant as residents are systematically excluded from clinical trials. Electronic health records (EHRs) hold the promise to improve this population''s representation in clinical research, especially with the more timely and detailed clinical information available in EHRs that are lacking in claims and MDS. The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the data gap in nursing homes. To address this need, the National Institute on Aging funded the Long-Term Care (LTC) Data Cooperative, a collaboration among providers and stakeholders in academia, government, and the private sector. The LTC Data Cooperative assembles residents'' EHRs from major specialty vendors and facilitates linkage of these data with Medicare claims to create a comprehensive, longitudinal patient record. These data serve 4 key purposes: (1) health care operations and population health analytics; (2) public health surveillance; (3) observational, comparative effectiveness research; and (4) clinical research studies, including provider and patient recruitment into Phase 3 and Phase 4 randomized trials. Federally funded researchers wanting to conduct pragmatic trials can now enroll their partnering sites in this Cooperative to more easily access the clinical data needed to close the evidence gaps in LTC. Linkage to Medicare data facilitates tracking patients'' long-term outcomes after being discharged back to the community. As of August 2022, nearly 1000 nursing homes have joined, feedback reports to facilities are being piloted, algorithms for identifying infections are being tested, and proposals for use of the data have been reviewed and approved. This emerging EHR system is a substantial innovation in the richness and timeliness of the data infrastructure of the nursing home population.