Archived Story

Mayo Clinic to expand records research

Published 9:51am Monday, March 25, 2013

By Lorna Benson
Minnesota Public Radio News

It’s not unusual for a health care provider to mine the medical records of its patients for research. But gaining access to the medical records of virtually an entire county is a far greater challenge.

Since 1966, the Mayo Clinic has collected as many medical records as possible in Minnesota’s Olmsted County to generate powerful studies that help save lives.

The Rochester Epidemiology Project has a treasure trove of close to 600,000 medical records. The health data have generated more than 2,000 studies and provided groundbreaking information on a variety of conditions, from heart disease to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

After nearly 50 years of success, the project is expanding to include patients from seven other southeastern Minnesota counties, which will help researchers broaden its database.

Having access to a large and growing pool of medical records gives researchers many more study options, said Jennifer St. Sauver, scientific manager of the project.

“The great thing about the Rochester Epidemiology Project is that it’s not confined just to one particular disease area or one particular condition,” she said. “Instead, since it’s just capturing all of the health care received by this local population, you can do studies of virtually any condition you can think of.”

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