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OBJECTIVE: To describe a novel England-wide electronic health record (EHR) resource enabling whole population research on covid-19 and cardiovascular disease while ensuring data security and privacy and maintaining public trust. DESIGN: Data resource comprising linked person level records from national healthcare settings for the English population, accessible within NHS Digital's new trusted research environment. SETTING: EHRs from primary care, hospital episodes, death registry, covid-19 laboratory test results, and community dispensing data, with further enrichment planned from specialist intensive care, cardiovascular, and covid-19 vaccination data. PARTICIPANTS: 54.4 million people alive on 1 January 2020 and registered with an NHS general practitioner in England. MAIN MEASURES OF INTEREST: Confirmed and suspected covid-19 diagnoses, exemplar cardiovascular conditions (incident stroke or transient ischaemic attack and incident myocardial infarction) and all cause mortality between 1 January and 31 October 2020. RESULTS: The linked cohort includes more than 96% of the English population. By combining person level data across national healthcare settings, data on age, sex, and ethnicity are complete for around 95% of the population. Among 53.3 million people with no previous diagnosis of stroke or transient ischaemic attack, 98 721 had a first ever incident stroke or transient ischaemic attack between 1 January and 31 October 2020, of which 30% were recorded only in primary care and 4% only in death registry records. Among 53.2 million people with no previous diagnosis of myocardial infarction, 62 966 had an incident myocardial infarction during follow-up, of which 8% were recorded only in primary care and 12% only in death registry records. A total of 959 470 people had a confirmed or suspected covid-19 diagnosis (714 162 in primary care data, 126 349 in hospital admission records, 776 503 in covid-19 laboratory test data, and 50 504 in death registry records). Although 58% of these were recorded in both primary care and covid-19 laboratory test data, 15% and 18%, respectively, were recorded in only one. CONCLUSIONS: This population-wide resource shows the importance of linking person level data across health settings to maximise completeness of key characteristics and to ascertain cardiovascular events and covid-19 diagnoses. Although this resource was initially established to support research on covid-19 and cardiovascular disease to benefit clinical care and public health and to inform healthcare policy, it can broaden further to enable a wide range of research.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/bmj.n826

Type

Journal article

Journal

BMJ

Publication Date

07/04/2021

Volume

373

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Aged, COVID-19, COVID-19 Testing, COVID-19 Vaccines, Cardiovascular Diseases, Child, Child, Preschool, Cohort Studies, Electronic Health Records, England, Female, Hospitalization, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Medical Record Linkage, Middle Aged, Primary Health Care, Young Adult