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In the all-out practical race to beat the coronavirus pandemic, unidentified patient data from a variety of sources support clinical research, and near-real time data captured through Electronic Health Records (EHR) plays an important role.
Electronic health record data is relatively new to support clinical research compared to patient data collected through the Health Insurance Claims Administration used for more than two decades. Particularly in the United States, where the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has stimulated nearly complete EHR adoption, the resulting “data depletion” of these systems inform disease characteristics, treatments, and outcomes on a national scale. This data can be of great value for research – increasing the knowledge gained from implementing rigorous clinical trial protocols with information gathered from patients treated in real-world caregiving settings. Clinical data contained in electronic health record systems contains unique information such as laboratory results, vital signs and symptoms, demographics, and use of over-the-counter medicines, which is very important for our understanding of the Coronavirus and its impact on patients.
While health information technology systems are ubiquitous, aggregating the patient data generated from these systems in a way that enables research is challenging. The data stored in the various information systems is not easy to format or format for research purposes. Even among EHR vendors, products from different vendors use different databases, formats, and labels. Linking different types of data, such as electronic health records and claims data, often requires a tremendous amount of work creating the links and testing results. Additionally, when accessing patient data for research, it is imperative that records be de-identified so that they cannot be linked to individual patients, in order to protect patient privacy and comply with federal privacy regulations.
Affected by a deadly global pandemic, government agencies, public health agencies, academic institutions and commercial organizations have turned to real-world patient data to better understand the characteristics and impact of Covid-19 in nearly real time. To support this need, several data and technology vendors, former fierce competitors, are gathering together in collaborative partnerships to enable Covid-19 research.
For example, a file Covid-19 Healthcare Alliance It is a private sector response that brings together 3 of the major US electronic health record vendors, among other healthcare organizations, technology companies, nonprofits, academia, and startups to provide data-driven Covid-19 insights to “keep order.” Providing health care and helping protect us, “the population. “This alliance, and Other similar forms of collaboration across the industryWe strive to answer various important questions such as:
- Are the supplies of medicines used to treat COVID-19 sufficient across the country?
- Do patients previously diagnosed with Covid-19 get reinfected?
- Are any approved pharmaceutical products effective in treating Covid-19?
Another effort to help research this disease is Covid-19 Research Database, Which is a free, multi-industry collaborative venture consisting of organizations that donate technology services, healthcare expertise, and data, allows public health and policy researchers to use real-world data to better understand and combat the pandemic. To date, nearly 400 academic researchers across the United States have applied to access a database of their research on Covid-19, with dozens of publications completed and in action. [Editor’s Note: The author’s employer — Veradigm, which is a business unit of Allscripts — is one of the many partners that has contributed data to the Covid-19 Research Database. Allscripts is also part of the Covid-19 Healthcare Coalition described above.]
With the spread of Covid-19 vaccinations across the world, EHR patient data also play an important role in monitoring patients who have been vaccinated against the virus through early identification of potential side effects. This kind of near-real-time monitoring is unprecedented. It is also critical based on the urgency and speed of vaccine trials and the emergency use of vaccines, particularly the new mRNA vaccine technology published by several manufacturers. Almost all pharmaceutical companies with approved vaccines monitor vaccine deployments with EHR data.
Using real-world patient data for research in response to the Covid-19 threat demonstrates a powerful and secondary benefit to the widespread adoption of electronic health records. The data obtained in electronic health records systems provide near-real-time information about vaccine rollout nationally, help monitor potential safety issues, and enhance understanding of the Covid-19 virus and its associated treatments and outcomes in realistic care settings. These questions are not easily addressed by conventional clinical trials.
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