Healthcare can be improved by standardization and by evaluation of diagnostic methods and treatments. In the field of andrology, in which large patient numbers are required for the evaluation of diagnostic procedures and treatments, structured data collection and multicentre studies are especially warranted. Concomitant with routine clinical practice, a large amount of clinical data are collected that may be used to evaluate andrological care. Structuring and electronic storage of data holds promise in terms of clarity and accessibility of the data and its use for validation studies. The aim of the present work was to study the merits of routine collection of a common dataset in a computer-based patient record (CPR) for standardization, quality of data and clinical research. It was studied whether the data were of sufficient quality and accessibility for much needed studies on aetiology, interventions and diagnostics in andrology. Data collection in a structured CPR promoted complete and comprehensive data. We describe the advantages, pitfalls and solutions with this approach. Data on the uniform examination of 1549 infertile men became readily accessible. Population characteristics, basal associations and original studies were enabled and provided insight into the efficiency of clinical practice. In 66% of men, a cause for their infertility was identified, which provides a better rationale for treatment than semen parameters alone. For more than 30% of the patients, a rational andrological treatment was available, which could be deployed before assisted reproductive technologies were resorted to. However, most treatments have not been properly validated. The thorough diagnostic evaluation identifies subgroups, that require an evidence base for treatment and further study on aetiology and diagnosis. Structured collection of uniform patient data through a CPR was feasible and facilitated the evaluation of diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. The reported advantages, pitfalls and solutions with this approach may help other centres to decide on how to implement a CPR. Conscientious collection of a standard data set in infertility centres facilitates pooling of data and evidence-based multicentre research.

, , ,,
International Journal of Andrology
Department of Internal Medicine

Pierik, F.H, van Ginneken, A.M, Dohle, G.R, Vreeburg, J.T.M, & Weber, R.F.A. (2000). The advantages of strandardized evaluation of male infertility. International Journal of Andrology, 23(6), 340–346. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2605.2000.00250.x