The Health Improvement Network (THIN)

Established in 2002, The Health Improvement Network (THIN*) facilitates the collection of non-identified patient data from UK General Practice (GP) clinical systems.  IQVIA has a License Agreement to use the data collected by THIN for medical research and treatment analysis. 

*THIN is a registered trademark of Cegedim SA in the United Kingdom and other countries. References made to THIN data are intended to be descriptive of the data asset licensed by IQVIA.

What information is included in THIN data?
As of January 2018, the THIN data available for research includes the Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) from over 17 million patients in the UK, 3.1 million of which are registered with an actively contributing THIN GP practice. The non-identified records from active patients are continuously updated and can be followed longitudinally which is invaluable for the study of chronic diseases and for tracking the efficacy of newly launched treatments.

THIN data includes non-identified data about:

  • Demographics, such as gender, year of birth and registration dates
  • Consultations, diagnoses and symptoms entered by GPs
  • Prescribed medication
  • Lab tests and results ordered by GP
  • Vaccinations
  • Additional health data such as blood pressure, height, weight

The data does not include identifying information on healthcare professionals, practices or patients. Information collected from participating practices is de-identified before the data are collected from the practice.

Scientific and Ethical approval
The THIN data has been approved by the NHS South East Multi-centre Research Ethics Committee (MREC). Under the terms of the this approval, studies using pre-existing non-identified data sources are required to undergo scientific review to help ensure appropriate analysis and interpretation of the data. The Committee also permitted the establishment of an independent Scientific Review Committee (SRC) to review study protocols for scientific merit and feasibility.

Data Protection Information
Each GP practice informs its patients (via display material and information leaflets) that it is participating in the THIN data collection scheme.

Patients are informed of their right to opt out of having their data collected and included in THIN notifying their practice. Patients who opt out are recorded as such by their practice, and are no longer included in THIN from that point forward, and any data already collected about that patient is also removed from the THIN research database.

THIN Data Use
THIN data is one of the UK´s largest longitudinal primary care EMR databases and has been extensively used by researchers to undertake population-based medical research studies in specific scientific areas.

IQVIA supplies THIN data for use in scientifically approved medical research studies: 

  • Epidemiology & pharmacoepidemiology 
  • Drug safety & risk management
  • Public health research 
  • Drug utilisation studies 
  • Outcomes research
  • Health economics research / resource utilisation 

The data are used by academic researchers, healthcare organisations, and medicines regulators, among others. A list of publications relating to studies that have used THIN is available on the IQVIA™ Real-World Insights Bibliography:

IQVIA collaborates in medical and academic studies in the areas listed above as well as using aggregated forms of the data for treatment analysis, to provide insights into patient, disease and prescribing profiles.

Availability of THIN Data 
THIN data are made available to researchers conducting protocol driven studies on a licensed basis and subject to certain specified terms of use. IQVIA uses THIN data to offer tailored research services including protocol development, ethics approval, data analysis and medical writing for reports, abstracts and publications. 

For further information about these services, please contact us