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Existing Data Sources in Clinical Epidemiology: The Taiwan National Health Insurance Laboratory Databases

Authors Lee PC, Kao FY, Liang FW, Lee YC, Li ST, Lu TH

Received 13 October 2020

Accepted for publication 30 January 2021

Published 1 March 2021 Volume 2021:13 Pages 175—181

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CLEP.S286572

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Vera Ehrenstein


Po-Chang Lee,1 Feng-Yu Kao,1 Fu-Wen Liang,2 Yi-Chan Lee,3 Sheng-Tun Li,4 Tsung-Hsueh Lu3

1National Health Insurance Administration, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Taipei, Taiwan; 2Department of Public Health, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan; 3Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan; 4Department of Industrial and Information Management, College of Management, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan

Correspondence: Tsung-Hsueh Lu
Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, No. 1, Dah Hsueh Road, East District, Tainan, 701, Taiwan
Tel +886-6-2353535 ext. 5567
Fax +886-6-2359033
Email [email protected]

Abstract: This paper provides an introduction to laboratory databases established by Taiwan National Health Insurance Administration (NHIA) since 2015 and released for research since June 2017. The National Health Insurance (NHI) is a government-run single-payer program introduced in 1995 that now covers more than 99% of 23 million Taiwanese citizens. To prevent duplication of medication prescriptions and laboratory test and examination prescriptions, contracted health care providers are required to upload the results of laboratory tests and reports of examinations to the NHIA. The cumulative number of laboratory test results was 5.64 billion from January 2015 to the end of August 2020 for 602 types of test. There are 35 variables for each laboratory test result stored in the databases that can be used for research. However, different hospitals might use different format in reporting the results. The researchers therefore have to develop algorithms to include and exclude incompatible records and to determine whether the results are positive or negative (normal or abnormal). The NHIA suggests that researchers release their source codes of algorithms so that other researchers can modify the codes to improve inter-study comparability. Through the unique personal identification number, the laboratory data can be linked to NHI inpatient and outpatient claims data for further value-added analyses. Non-Taiwanese researchers can collaborate with Taiwan researchers to access the NHI laboratory databases.

Keywords: biomarkers, database, data resource, laboratory information systems, National Health Insurance claims data, Taiwan

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