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The historical development of the Dutch Sentinel General Practice Network from a paper based into a digital primary care monitoring system.

Schweikardt, C., Verheij, R.A., Donker, G.A., Coppieters, Y. The historical development of the Dutch Sentinel General Practice Network from a paper based into a digital primary care monitoring system. Journal of Public Health: 2016, 24(6), 545-562
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Aim
The Dutch Sentinel General Practice Network (SGPN) was founded in 1970 for disease surveillance in primary care, based on paper questionnaires. Advances in information technology offered new prospects of data collection from electronic health records (EHRs). This study investigates the resulting challenges for the SGPN and its transition towards electronic data collection.

Methods
A qualitative approach included triangulation of SGPN annual reports, network publications, its computerisation project protocol of 2004, public health policy documents, and expert interviews.

Results
In the 1990s, the design of the SGPN, coordinated by the research institute NIVEL, no longer corresponded to new Dutch government information demands regarding developments in primary care utilisation and quality. The emergence of the EHR-based Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (LINH) could have rendered the SGPN obsolete. However, NIVEL researchers recognised that routine EHR data on health problems could not fully provide required information obtained by questionnaires and samples for laboratory analysis. They developed a plan:
(1) taking EHR-based routine data collection as a basis,
(2) simultaneously retaining the more detailed supplementary data collection that was the core of the SGPN.

The transition towards electronic data collection from 2005 onwards was followed by the integration of both networks into the NIVEL Primary Care Database in 2014.

Conclusion
The Dutch model is an example of a process responding to the challenges and opportunities associated with the emergence of electronic data collection, leading towards the integration of routine and supplementary data collection for both sentinel surveillance and health services research. (aut. ref.)
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