The ACT Network and COVID-19 Response


The global pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 with the attendant morbidity and mortality requires urgent understanding of the natural course of COVID-19 and characterization of the factors of disease severity and poor outcomes. A significant source of data for COVID-19 research is patient data captured in electronic health records (EHRs). To leverage EHRs for COVID-19 research, the national Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) network - a federated network of Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) hubs - has implemented an efficient and extensible electronic infrastructure of SHRINE/i2b2 technology to enable clinical and translational research. The ACT network, which links EHR data on >130M patients from 48 CTSA hubs, provides a unique real-time platform for conducting research on COVID-19 at unprecedented national scale. We mobilized the network to support an array of COVID-19 studies ranging from assessing spatial and temporal incidence and characterizing the influence of co-morbidity and current medications to identifying cohorts for clinical trials. To enable this work, we developed a specialized COVID-19 ontology that enables harmonization of data elements that that are critical to COVID-19 research, refreshed COVID-19 related EHR data across the network at a frequency of at least once a week, conducted ‘smoke’ tests to ensure quality of the key COVID-19 related data at the hubs, and are adding capability to perform automated advanced analytics.

Professor of Neurology and Biomedical Informatics HMS, Chief Research Information Officer at Mass General Brigham
CIO, Harvard Catalyst
Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Research, Health Sciences
Professor or Medicine