The Fight Against COVID-19 Needs the Real-World Data Now Available to Researchers Worldwide

The following is a guest article by Dan O’Connor, SVP, Growth at Ciox Real World Data.

With the resurgent spread of COVID-19 through American communities nationwide comes an explosion of COVID-19 data as a byproduct; real-world data (RWD) necessary and useful to accelerate containment, tracing, and treatment solutions. But to access the intelligence within the data, our industry must step up in the proliferation of innovative data-driven solutions.

An Explosion of COVID-19 Data

Coronavirus is on the rise once more. With each positive (and negative) test, every interaction of care with a professional, every hospital visit, every ICU admission, and sadly, every death comes vast amounts of clinical data captured at the various points of care.

That care information is the raw form of real-world COVID-19 data, all of it, and every line on every chart represents the exact data point at which researchers and clinicians could begin to understand the critical characteristics of the novel coronavirus. The data is how we will power understanding to develop therapies, provide clinical guidance, and build containment strategies.

Significant insights will come when organizations gain access and can deep-dive into the aggregate COVID-19 RWD dataset. Gathering and distributing that data has been the order of the day for organizations like Ciox Real World Data and others in health data. As more and more meaningful data reaches the hands of researchers and analysts, key learnings that solve important COVID-19 questions may be right around the next corner.

RWD Can Power COVID-19 Containment, Tracing and Treatment

As it stands today, governments should make important decisions such as whether a state must shelter in place, or at what capacity to reopen an economy, based on data like the statewide COVID-19 test result metrics, or the aggregate hospitalization and death tolls.

While these data sources are useful for modeling, they fall short of providing insights for comprehensive containment, tracing, and treatment solutions. More real-world data is needed to accelerate breakthroughs that might help end the pandemic.

With broader RWD captured in real-time, scientific evidence is obtainable for symptoms and disease progression, risk factors associated with disease severity, comorbid conditions and social determinants of health; treatment efficacy and efficiency; and overall outcomes.

Though epidemiology has advanced understanding of the novel coronavirus substantially in the months since COVID-19 emerged, there is still much more to learn. For example, it remains a great unknown why some become ill while others don’t. Or why some are asymptomatic while others aren’t. We don’t know how the extent of asymptomatic spread or how COVID-19 behaves related to immunity, reinfection, or viral shedding.

For all science knows, the U.S. coronavirus response is still more based on small-sample, ‘sound bite’ studies than on fundamental scientific findings. Unfortunately, not many answers are known as of yet, and recently there has been a flurry of decisions and interpretations that might’ve led to spikes in numbers, leading to a never-ending first wave. While political polarization may drive the containment conversation nationwide, the real researchers on the front lines of science require in-depth, objective, and clinically valid RWD at scale.

The Industry Must Respond with Data-Driven Solutions

Industry leaders are stepping forward to curate and aggregate RWD and other types of data to make progress on the essential battlefields of containment, tracing and treatment. For as much as COVID-19 is winning against the U.S. health and political systems, the field is getting crowded at the onset of a resurgence:

Generating comprehensive research data is one of the goals of the medical community. Another important task is bringing medicine that stops the virus in its track. Dubbed “Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines,” or ACTIV, the effort represents the combined work of a recently-formed public-private partnership between more than a dozen biopharmaceutical companies, as well as U.S. and European government agencies.

This partnership is the foundational, shared global effort, complemented by leading companies across industry and the world, to find and produce medicine that combats COVID-19. Success for this group will be data-driven.

The reality is stark. Scientists predict a resurgence of COVID-19 infections. America’s response has been politicized at best and has lagged far behind the rest of the world by nearly every metric.

But by using RWD, the U.S. and world economies should be in a better position to respond more aggressively and effectively to the ongoing fight, along with whatever waves lie ahead in this pandemic and those in the future. Good science, no matter the circumstances around it, depends on comprehensive data, which the health data industry is now poised to deliver.

About Ciox
Ciox Health, a leading health technology company and proud sponsor of Healthcare IT Today, is improving patient health by transforming clinical data into actionable insights. Combined with an unmatched network offering ubiquitous access to healthcare data, Ciox’s expertise, relationships, technology and scale make a difference for healthcare stakeholders and empower greater health for patients. Through its HealthSource technology platform, which includes solutions for data acquisition, release of information, clinical coding, data abstraction, and analytics, Ciox helps clients securely and consistently solve the last mile challenges in clinical interoperability. Learn more about Ciox’s technology and solutions by visiting or Twitter and LinkedIn.