The RECORDER group uses health data science and large-scale data to improve the lives of people with rare autoimmune rheumatic diseases and other rare diseases. This project uses national electronic health records to register and improve the health and care of people with rare diseases. 

The work is a collaboration between the University of Nottingham, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Disease Registration Service (NCARDRS) and researchers in other institutions.



A rare disease is defined as one that affects fewer than 1 in 2,000 people but there are many rare diseases and, in the UK, 1 in 17 people will be affected by a rare disease. Health outcomes are poor for people with one of these diseases and their rarity makes research difficult.

Rare autoimmune rheumatic diseases (RAIRD) are rare, non-genetic diseases that usually start in adulthood and can be difficult to diagnose. But the data on patients with these sorts of rare disease is patchy and disjointed – for some, we don’t even know basic information like how many people have it, how they’re being treated and where. Without this fundamental patient data, it is hard to plan and target healthcare services or to run clinical trials to find new and effective treatments.

Information about rare disease patients often already exists; the problem is that it is collected by different systems that don’t talk to each other. Not all patients are seen by specialist centres, so data is disparate, and most rare diseases lack standard codes that would allow them to be identified in health and care data.

All of this means that patients with rare diseases wait longer for the right diagnosis and treatment than those patients with more common conditions, and that the treatment they do receive isn’t always well supported by evidence.


1in17graphicsmThe RECORDER project works collaboratively with the National Congenital Anomaly and Rare Disease Registration Service (NCARDRS), and with hospitals, patients and clinicians from across England to join-up existing clinical and administrative data. Using this patient-level data, the project is working to find out how many cases of particular rare autoimmune rheumatic diseases hospitals in England are treating, where they are and what care these patients are receiving. With this information, the team can build up a more detailed picture – both of the disease and of clinician and patient needs – which also helps to improve the quality and completeness of the NCARDRS dataset for other researchers and offers a great model for future collaborations.



Our projects cover a number of Rare Autoimmune Rheumatic diseases


RECORDER is developing important insights that help health services to better understand rare diseases and anticipate demand for potentially life-saving treatment, and allow researchers to identify opportunities to trial new interventions. The hope is that this will mean faster diagnosis and treatment of patients with rare diseases, more research that better meets the needs of both patients and clinicians, and more effective evidence-based care.


Our priorities



get a final diagnosis faster




of rare diseases among healthcare professionals

brain with cogs



of care

people ideas



to specialist care, treatments and drugs




Current projects

We are working on a number of projects to improve diagnosis and health outcomes for patients with rare rheumatic diseases

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Our research has been published in leading peer-reviewed journals

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The University of Nottingham
School Of Medicine, University Of Nottingham
Clinical Sciences Building, City Hospital Campus
United Kingdom


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