Medical records needed to build national COVID-19 registry

Healthcare and software companies are trying  to develop a national COVID-19 registry built from patient medical records, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The database could be used to study how COVID-19 spreads, the populations most vulnerable and the effectiveness of treatments, people familiar with the matter told the Journal. The database would be made available to governments and academic researchers.

Datavant, a San Francisco company connecting disparate health data sets while protecting patient privacy, began the initiative in March. Allscripts and Change Health have offered to provide data. Anthem has been contacted about offering medical claims data, but the health insurer has not confirmed its participation.

The registry aims to include all patients who have been tested for COVID-19. No patient names or identifying details would be featured in the registry. Rather, names and Social Security numbers will be "transformed through an irreversible probe" into encrypted keys, the Journal reported.

The registry would include detailed information about patients' past and current health conditions and medications. Datavant aims to collect data on 80 percent of U.S. medical claims.

Health officials could use the data to examine the effectiveness of treatments, including hydroxychloroquine and other antivirals. The data could also be used to gain insights on the patients most likely to require ventilator support. Researchers could also investigate infection rates among healthcare workers with the data.

Currently, Datavant is in contact with the FDA about the registry.

"The FDA recognizes the potential for many different real-world data sources to complement traditional clinical studies and speed the process of evaluating the impact of potential COVID-19 therapies," an FDA spokesperson told the Journal. "To that end, the agency is advancing relationships with partners in the public and private sectors to rapidly collect and analyze information in areas such as illness partners and treatment outcomes."

More articles on health IT: 
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VA suspends Cerner EHR rollout amid COVID-19 pandemic
AHA teams up with AVIA on COVID-19 digital response: 3 notes

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