Results Summary

PCORI funded the development of PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, to make research faster, easier, and less costly to conduct. PCORnet is made up of Partner Networks of healthcare systems, patients and communities, and health plans that harness the power of large amounts of health data.

PCORI supports projects, designed in partnership with federal funding organizations, to improve the quality of data used in clinical research. This project is one of two projects designed to link data from PCORnet and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Sentinel medical product monitoring system.

What was the project about?

Antimicrobials are medicines that help fight infections from bacteria or fungi. Doctors and hospitals often prescribe them when they aren’t needed. This overuse leads to problems, such as the medicines not working, because the bacteria they are meant to kill become resistant.

Tracking how often hospitalized patients receive antimicrobials is an important part of preventing resistance to a medicine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, works with hospitals to track and understand data on antimicrobial use.

One way to help hospitals track antimicrobial use is through databases that combine information from sources like patients’ health records or insurance claims. PCORnet created a shared database system that includes data from patients’ electronic health records, or EHRs. Through its Sentinel Initiative, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, created a shared database system with data from insurance claims. This system is called the Sentinel System. The FDA uses this system to monitor the safety of medical products such as medicines and vaccines. But neither of these systems had a way to help hospitals track antimicrobial use to share with the CDC. The project team wanted to create and test a new method for using the PCORnet and the FDA shared database systems to track antimicrobial use in the format used by the CDC.

What were the results?

Were data in the format needed by CDC? The project team found that the databases did not have information in the format needed by CDC. The databases needed a new format for information on the antimicrobial medicine prescribed and how patients took the medicine. The databases also needed a new format for information about patients’ locations as they moved through the hospital during their stays, such as from the emergency room to a hospital bed.

Could the team develop a new method to track antimicrobial use? The project team compiled the information from the databases on antimicrobial use into the format needed by CDC. The team created a free toolkit to help healthcare systems that are part of PCORnet and the FDA’s Sentinel Initiative track antimicrobial use and share these data with CDC.

Who was in the project?

The project included EHR data from five healthcare systems in Illinois, Louisiana, and Tennessee. The healthcare systems belong to three clinical data research networks that are part of PCORnet. Healthcare systems provided up to 12 months of data on patients’ antimicrobial use.

What did the project team do?

The project team looked at

  • What data each database had to track antimicrobial use
  • What data the project team needed to find in EHRs
  • Whether a new method could track antimicrobial use by combining data from the databases

What were the limits of the project?

Some healthcare systems had restrictions that limited the data that they could share with PCORnet. This may limit the number of PCORnet partners that can use the toolkit.

Future projects can use the toolkit to track antimicrobial use for health conditions for which medicine misuse is common.

How can people use the results?

Research teams can use these methods when planning studies that use the PCORnet database to track hospitalized patients’ antimicrobial use.

Project Information

William Trick, MD
Medical Research Analytics and Informatics Alliance
Data Model for Initiatives to Monitor Exposure to Antimicrobials in PCORnet and Sentinel (DataMIME)

Key Dates

October 2017

Study Registration Information


Has Results
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: January 27, 2023