Real-World Data

What Is Real World Data (RWD)?

Real World Data, often abbreviated as RWD, is a collection of non-traditional data sources that offer invaluable insights into real-world healthcare scenarios.  It offers a comprehensive view of how treatments are utilized and their real-world effectiveness. RWD includes Electronic Health Records (EHRs), billing data, registries, patient-reported outcomes (PROs), biometric devices, and much more.

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Dr. Peace Chikezie

Published 22 Sep 2023

What Is Real World Data (RWD)? - Infiuss Health


In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, traditional clinical trials and lab experiments are no longer the only sources of valuable insights. 

Enter Real-World Data (RWD), a game-changer that's reshaping the way we make healthcare decisions. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the meaning and examples of real-world data.


Real-World Data(RWD) Meaning

Imagine having access to a wealth of healthcare information that goes far beyond the confines of clinical trials – that's exactly what real-world data represents.

So what is meant by Real World Data? 

Real World Data, often abbreviated as RWD, is a collection of non-traditional data sources that offer invaluable insights into real-world healthcare scenarios. 

It offers a comprehensive view of how treatments are utilized and their real-world effectiveness.

RWD includes Electronic Health Records (EHRs), billing data, registries, patient-reported outcomes (PROs), biometric devices, and much more.


What is real-world data and real-world evidence?

Real-World Data (RWD) and Real-World Evidence (RWE) are interconnected concepts in healthcare research and decision-making.

Some people interchange these two concepts but they are different, each playing a distinct yet complementary role.

Real-World Data (RWD)

RWD is the raw material, the unprocessed data collected from diverse sources in real-world healthcare settings. 

It's the comprehensive and often unstructured dataset that reflects the multifaceted nature of healthcare delivery. 

RWD is like the pieces of a puzzle, waiting to be assembled and analyzed to unveil meaningful insights.

Real-World Data (RWD) Example

Imagine a pharmaceutical company conducting a study to assess the real-world effectiveness of a newly developed medication for hypertension. 

They collect RWD from various sources, including Electronic Health Records (EHRs), medical claims data, and patient-reported outcomes. 

This dataset comprises a vast array of patient information, including patient demographics, medication usage, blood pressure readings, and treatment outcomes.


Real-World Evidence (RWE)

On the other hand, Real-World Evidence (RWE) is the product of analyzing and interpreting RWD to draw valuable conclusions and insights. 

It represents the actionable knowledge derived from the raw data. 

RWE is akin to solving the puzzle using the puzzle pieces (RWD), providing answers, recommendations, and guidance based on the data analysis.

To illustrate the difference, let's consider an example:

Real-World Evidence (RWE) Example

Now, based on the previous example given, the pharmaceutical company's team of researchers takes the RWD and begins the analysis. 

They study the data to determine how well the medication works in real-world scenarios, whether it effectively lowers blood pressure, and whether there are any notable side effects. 

They might identify trends such as improved outcomes for certain patient demographics or potential areas for further research. This forms the Real World Evidence.

In this scenario, the RWD is the raw dataset collected from real-world healthcare settings – it's the piece of the puzzle. The RWE, on the other hand, represents the conclusions drawn from analyzing that data – it's the completed puzzle that provides actionable insights.

In essence, RWD is the starting point, the foundation of real-world healthcare information, while RWE is the outcome, the valuable knowledge that informs healthcare decisions, treatment guidelines, and policy-making. 

Examples of Real-World Data

RWD takes many forms, making it a versatile resource for healthcare insights. 

12 major examples of real-world data  sources include:

1. Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Electronic Health Records are detailed digital databases that store a patient's complete medical history, including diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes.

They are invaluable for healthcare research worldwide, enabling in-depth analysis of patient journeys and treatment effectiveness. 

2. Medical Claims Data

Information from medical claims data provides insights into healthcare service utilization. 

It includes records of procedures, medications, tests, and billing information. 

Companies worldwide can leverage this data to understand healthcare costs and resource allocation.

3. Disease or Medication/Device Registries

Disease and medication/device registries are databases that track patients with specific conditions or use particular treatments or medical devices. 

These registries are instrumental in tracking treatment outcomes and identifying trends, benefiting global research efforts.

4. Wearable Device Data

 Wearable devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers offer continuous data collection on activity levels, sleep patterns, and more. 

This data provides insights into health and lifestyle trends worldwide.

5. Social Media Data

Social media data is a dynamic source for tracking trends in public health and patient sentiment.

Companies abroad can utilize this data to understand public reactions to healthcare policies, emerging diseases, and treatment efficacy on a global scale.

6. Patient-Reported Outcomes (PROs)

Direct feedback from patients about their health status and quality of life is invaluable. 

PROs offer a patient-centric perspective that aids in assessing treatment satisfaction and the impact of healthcare interventions.

7. Laboratory Records

Laboratory records encompass a wide range of diagnostic and testing data. 

From blood tests to microbiology reports, these records provide essential insights into disease prevalence, diagnostic accuracy, and the effectiveness of laboratory procedures. 

Laboratories across the globe contribute significantly to RWD generation.

8. Population Health Surveys

Surveys conducted to assess population health are vital sources of RWD. 

They capture data on health behaviors, risk factors, and disease prevalence. 

This data aids in understanding the health needs of diverse populations.

9. Health Insurance Data

Health insurance data includes information on healthcare coverage, claims, and expenditures. 

It assists in resource allocation, policy development, and understanding the financial aspects of healthcare systems.

10. Mobile Health (mHealth) Apps

Mobile health applications gather real-time health data from users' smartphones. 

They can track vital signs, medication adherence, and lifestyle choices. This data is valuable for global healthcare research and intervention planning.

11. Telemedicine Records

Telemedicine consultations produce records of remote healthcare interactions. 

These records are increasingly important for analyzing the reach and effectiveness of telehealth services, which have global relevance.

12. National Health Surveys

Government-conducted national health surveys collect data on a wide range of health indicators, including disease prevalence, immunization rates, and healthcare access. 

This data informs healthcare policy decisions internationally.

13. Health Research Databases

Academic and research institutions maintain databases with a wealth of health-related information. 

Researchers worldwide can access these databases to conduct studies and gain insights into healthcare trends and innovations.

In Africa, where healthcare diversity is vast, RWD becomes even more crucial. For instance, laboratories across the continent are now generating valuable data that can be used to shape healthcare and research-based decisions. 


Real World Data and Regulatory Bodies

RWD isn't just a buzzword; it's gaining recognition from regulatory bodies such as the FDA. 

These agencies are developing frameworks to harness the potential of Real-World Evidence (RWE), derived from RWD, to streamline clinical studies and support new therapy approvals. 


FAQ Section


1. What is the opposite of real-world data?

The opposite of real-world data is controlled experimental data.

Real-world data is collected in real-world settings, while controlled experimental data is collected in a controlled laboratory setting.


A. Real-world data: Data from electronic health records (EHRs)

B. Controlled experimental data: Data from a clinical trial of a new drug

2. What is real-world data vs. real-world evidence?

Real-world data refers to the raw data collected from real-world sources, whereas real-world evidence is the result of analyzing and interpreting this data to draw meaningful conclusions and insights.

3. How is real-world data used?

Real-world data (RWD) is used in many ways to improve healthcare, including:

I.To develop new treatments

II.To monitor the safety and effectiveness of treatments over time

III. To improve the delivery of healthcare

Here are some specific examples:

* RWD is used to identify new potential targets for drug development.

* RWD is used to monitor the safety of new drugs after they have been approved for market.

* RWD is used to develop new care models for patients with chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.

4. What are the problems with real-world data?

Real-world data (RWD) has many benefits, but it also has some challenges, including:

a.Data quality: RWD can vary in quality depending on the source of the data. For example, data from electronic health records (EHRs) may be more complete and accurate than data from social media.

b.Data integration: RWD can be difficult to integrate from different sources because the data is often in different formats and has different standards.

c.Data analysis: RWD analysis can be complex because the data is often large and complex.

d. Bias: RWD can be biased, meaning that it may not be representative of the general population. For example, if RWD is collected from a group of patients who are all using a particular treatment, the data may not be representative of all patients with that condition.



Infiuss Health  stands as a pioneering force, using Real-World Data (RWD) to reshape healthcare not only in Africa but also for global research endeavors.

Learn more about us by checking out our website. 

You can also send a message to [email protected] for more information.


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