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TurkuCRC: Real-world data from birth to death


The demand for real-world data (RWD) has increased dramatically in the pharmaceutical industry in recent years. The key challenge in RWD research is that there are very limited numbers of high-quality data sources with easy access to the data. The Centre for Clinical Informatics at the Turku Clinical Research Center (TurkuCRC) has built a unique solution to tackle this problem. We sat down with Professor Tarja Laitinen from Turku University Hospital to discuss the newly initiated strategic partnership between TurkuCRC and MedEngine, and the new possibilities it offers for RWD research.

Real world evidence (RWE), the evidence derived from aggregation and analysis of RWD, is essential throughout a medicinal product’s life cycle. Such evidence may help design better clinical trials, demonstrate the value of the product to the payers, identify rare safety signals, and make better commercial decisions, just to mention few.
RWD is, by definition, data that is collected outside traditional clinical trials.Such data is typically collected for other than research purposes, e.g. for statistics, administration, or routine healthcare. That is why RWD is often incomplete, riddled with errors, and difficult to access. These are the key challenges that Professor Laitinen and her team have decided to tackle at Turku University Hospital. They have built a true big data solution that collects comprehensive data from health care records and other hospital databases, which can be accessed directly via electronic interface. At present, all secondary care data from the Southwestern Hospital District of Finland is included, but the reach is currently expanding to other areas as well.

“We have access to patient data from birth to death and that’s why we can build a life-long phenotype for each patient”, Professor Laitinen says.

This data is used as the basis of hospital management: it helps improve quality of care and in developing cost-effective processes. In addition to internal use of the data, TurkuCRC has recently started to collaborate with MedEngine to also provide data access to industry partners.

“Our strategic partnership with MedEngine is about building a service model that provides the possibility to find novel treatment protocols for cost-effective treatment using high-quality clinical and health-economic RWD”, Professor Laitinen says. She remarks that there’s a unique win-win situation in the industry collaboration: “The polished data that returns to the clinic will ultimately result in better targeted treatments, and subsequently better patient care and cost-effectiveness in treatment”.

Despite availability of comprehensive data, study settings and data analyses are not always the easiest to set up in RWD research: ”It is very important for us that MedEngine has exceptionally strong expertise in RWD research and biostatistics. It is also important to involve investigators from Turku University Hospital in the projects, because they have the best understanding of treatment practices at the clinic.”

Finland has made major investments in the secondary use of health data, and TurkuCRC is the prime example of what the results can be in the best case. However, much effort is still needed in building the nationwide RWD ecosystem. This needs collaborative effort from public and private healthcare, research institutions, and the industry: “Finland stands a good chance of being among the leading countries in RWD research, but the international competition is tough. That’s why we need to accelerate the development of our ecosystem.”

For more information about TurkuCRC data, please contact Hanna Ventola, (E-mail:; +358 400 240 858).
MedEngine and TurkuCRC will organize a joint symposium at the 2nd Nordic Congress on Real World Data in Helsinki on September 27th, 2017. Have a look at the details here. 

Professor Tarja Laitinen, Chief Physician, MD, PhD, is the Head of Pulmonary Diseases at Turku University hospital (TYKS). Her special area of responsibility is the secondary use of health data.
Turku Clinical Research Center (TurkuCRC)

  • Founded in 2014
  • Owned jointly by the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital (TYKS)
  • Provides services for clinical research and clinical information
  • The Centre for Clinical Informatics at TurkuCRC coordinates and builds the infrastructure for clinical data services
  • Currently, the data includes all secondary care data from the Southwestern Hospital District. Satakunta and Vaasa Hospital Districts are currently in the process of joining the TurkuCRC infrastructure.
Tero Ylisaukko-oja

Tero Ylisaukko-oja

Known for his creative thinking and passion for complex projects, MedEngine CEO and Founder Tero Ylisaukko-oja seeks out clients who are willing to innovate and challenge both him and themselves. Outside of MedEngine Tero enjoys everything Italian, be it food, wine, soccer, the Mediterranean sea, or small cars with character. His family includes his wife Niina, two sons, and dachshunds Gunnar and Bruno.