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Emergency department frequent attenders: big data insights for a big and complex problem
  1. Martin Than1,
  2. Sandra Richardson1,
  3. John Pickering2,3
  1. 1 Emergency Department, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, University of Otago Christchurch, Christchurch, New Zealand
  3. 3 Department of Emergency Medicine, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Martin Than, Emergency Department, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, Private Bag 4710, New Zealand; martin{at}

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In their EMJ manuscript, Burton and colleagues apply clever mathematics to the challenging issue of ED frequent attenders.1 We must disclose here that we are not experts in the sort of analysis used and we suspect that applies to many readers. As a result, it may be tempting to give this only cursory attention and to move on to more familiar methodologies. We would urge a second and deeper look.

Emergency medicine is moving into an era with increasing access to very large datasets of linked data that are relevant to our practice. Analyses such as this are likely to become more commonplace. Importantly, they provide insights that may not be possible with more traditional research approaches and additionally, the ability to evaluate, at scale, the real-world impact of interventions.

As the authors’ note, ED frequent attendance appears to occur everywhere. It incorporates a complex mix of human beings who have a variety of problems which may …

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  • Handling editor Ellen J Weber

  • Twitter @SandraR_PhD, @kiwiskiNZ

  • Contributors Commentary writing—MT, SR and JP.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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