From the Chief Executive Officer: The Role Big Data Plays in Urology

By: Michael T. Sheppard, CPA, CAE | Posted on: 01 Feb 2021

Advances in technology have given us the opportunity to collect vast quantities of digital data. Such “big data” play a role in many aspects of health care including urology. Urologists are using big data to improve patient care and advance the specialty.

The AUA Quality Registry (AQUA) has played a significant role in the advancement of big data in urology. The AQUA Registry is a national Qualified Clinical Data Registry designed for urologists and other urological care providers to monitor and report performance at both practice and provider levels. Data on 10 major urologic conditions including prostate cancer, advanced prostate cancer, bladder cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, urinary stones, testosterone replacement therapy, stress urinary incontinence, cryptorchidism, hypogonadism, azoospermia and vasectomy are aggregated for quality improvement and research in the AQUA Registry.

Data available from the AQUA Registry include national benchmarks for diagnoses and treatments, urology-specific quality measures, and practice and physician performance indicators for quality improvement and accountability applications. The AQUA Registry provides a comprehensive clinical registry without the burden of manual data entry, relying upon natural language extraction from patients’ electronic records.

The real-world data (RWD) in the AQUA Registry are used for providers to document clinical outcomes of patients and the treatment journey patients took. The RWD helps build tools to support care providers with their efforts in improving quality of care and fuels comparative effectiveness research, helping advance the science of urology. These data also can be used to spur the development, refinement and validation of health care performance measures that are most important for the field.

The AQUA Registry provides a picture of patient experiences and outcomes associated with urologic conditions. Partnering with regional health initiatives and other health care stakeholders can drive the discovery of clinically actionable quality improvement activities. Such partnerships increase the effectiveness of health care resource use, improve patient experience and enhance treatment outcomes for patients with urological conditions.

All of the data in the AQUA Registry can fuel health services and policy research as well as measurement science. AQUA Registry data has the potential to support basic science and translational research to help fill current knowledge gaps. Big data will continue to play a critical role in urology, health care and the improvement of patients’ lives.

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