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"The most valuable repository about the current health of the population may well be GP records and it is ironic that these are virtually unused for local health surveillance and service audit."

(Information for Health, NHS Executive, 1998)

MIQUEST is a methodology and an approach to common data access which enables enquirers to execute queries and extract data from different types of general medical practice computer systems using a common query language.

It has been endorsed by the NHS Executive as the recommended method and therefore adopted as a standard, for this purpose.

MIQUEST can meet the requirements of Primary Care data analysis and support the Primary Care agenda by providing current clinical data concerning, for example, prevalence of morbidities and changes over time, progress towards health gain targets for specified groups (e.g. in support of Health Improvement Programmes), outcomes for patients with specified illness, and monitoring of at-risk groups.

The effective use of information management and technology is at the heart of the strategy to modernise the NHS, with quality information seen as the key to improving patient care and public health.

"Information for Health" recommended that Primary Care develop the means to access, aggregate and analyse data held within practice systems to support the planning, commissioning, monitoring and evaluation of health and healthcare services.