New Coalition Forms To Share Data, Coordinate Response To COVID-19 Threat

A group of healthcare, tech and non-profit organizations has come together to support the rapid deployment of open source solutions addressing the COVID-19 virus.

The COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition’s members include Amazon Web Services (AWS), athenahealth, CommonWell Health Alliance, Epic, HCA Healthcare, Intermountain Healthcare, LabCorp, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Rush University System for Health, Buoy Health,, Leavitt Partners, MassChallenge, Salesforce, Walgreens, Cerner, Diagnostic Robots, and the University of California Healthcare System. Expect to see other health IT giants and at least some health plans. It won’t take long for this to become an industry-wide party.

Coalition members have agreed to work with MITRE Corp. to manage group data-sharing efforts, a smart move given that the project could lose momentum if it got bogged down within the bureaucracy of any individual company.  MITRE will support inter-group communication and aggregate de-identified data to spark clinical insights and track requirements for resources like beds and ventilators.

Group members have agreed to endorse a few guiding principles, including that no participant gets a preferential advantage, that everyone cooperates and openly shares their plans, that no one gets paid for coalition work, that verbal agreements are sufficient to get the work started. Clearly, the idea here is that the participants don’t get involved solely to market themselves.

One of the initial resources available to the group is a dashboard tracking vulnerable populations on a region by region basis (as defined by ZIP code). The vulnerability scale includes medical risk factors, social risk and healthcare resource risk.  MITRE is also helping the group develop a taxonomy participants can use to track non-pharmaceutical interventions available to tackle COVID-19.

Over the short term, public and private organizations will need to fly by the seat of their pants to identify and make the best use of data for use in tackling the pandemic. With so much to learn about the virus’s spread, patient exposure patterns and more, it could be some time before sophisticated disease tracking and management options are available. The work MITRE and the Coalition have undertaken will help fill the gaps in current pandemic management approaches and perhaps build a model for longer-term management of COVID-19 data.

Eventually, as organizations learn from their efforts, it will become clearer how to not only slow the spread of COVID-19 but also how to prepare better for future pandemics.

For example, participants in the Coalition will develop standard approaches to managing disease-tracking data. We’re talking about models like that described in a recent research study on the subject suggesting that in the future, patient travel history information should be integrated into EHRs. The article also notes that shared EHRs can integrate travel history with computerized decision support to develop specific diagnoses in recent travelers.

The researchers conclude that a simple targeted travel history can both put infectious symptoms in context and trigger a hunt for a more detailed history where appropriate. A simple script could elicit clues regarding emerging infectious diseases which, when collected along with gold-standard vital signs (temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure) can guide future care.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

1 Comment

  • This is great start, but I think we need worldwide monitoring system. The zip code is only good for US and someone always need to update the zip codes. I also think we need to integrate social media like Facebook to see where and who the patient has contacts with. In addition, in order to treat the infected patients, we will need more of virtual patient treatment like telehealth to keep the front line workers safe as well.
    Amazon can deliver medical equipment via drones to hospitals/clinics.
    EHR is real time so it’s doable and limit expose the virus to others quickly.

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