UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Standardizing our perinatal language to facilitate data sharing Massey, Kiran Angelina


Our ultimate goal as obstetric and neonatal care providers is to improve care for mothers and their babies. Continuous quality improvement (CQI) involves iterative cycles of practice change and audit of ongoing clinical care identifying practices that are associated with good outcomes. A vital prerequisite to this evidence based medicine is data collection. In Canada, much of the country is covered by separate fragmented silos known as regional reproductive care databases or perinatal health programs. A more centralized system which includes collaborative efforts is required. Moving in this direction would serve many purposes: efficiency, economy in the setting of limited resources and shrinking budgets and lastly, interaction among data collection agencies. This interaction may facilitate translation and transfer of knowledge to care-givers and patients. There are however many barriers towards such collaborative efforts including privacy, ownership and the standardization of both digital technologies and semantics. After thoroughly examining the current existing perinatal data collection among Perinatal Health Programs (PHPs), and the Canadian Perinatal Network (CPN) database, it was evident that there is little standardization of definitions. This serves as one of the most important barriers towards data sharing. To communicate effectively and share data, researchers and clinicians alike must construct a common perinatal language. Communicative tools and programs such as SNOMED CT® offer a potential solution, but still require much work due to their infancy. A standardized perinatal language would not only lay the definitional foundation in women’s health and obstetrics but also serve as a major contribution towards a universal electronic health record.

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