August 2020 – Project Spotlight: The Pandemic Imperative
Update provided by Dr Anna Janssen
This month’s Digital Health CRC update is on the project ‘The Pandemic Imperative: Clinical Data and Analytics Platform to improve clinical outcomes through point-of-care decision support’. The Pandemic Imperative project is a collaboration between Industry partners NSW Health, Queensland Health and the Commonwealth Department of Health and University partners the University of Sydney, Queensland University of Technology and Monash University. Professor Tom Snelling, who is one of the University of Sydney investigators on the project, has kindly agreed to answer some questions about the project to share with the DHIN.
Could you briefly describe the Pandemic Imperative project? The COVID-19 Clinical Data Analytics Platform (CDAP) aims to develop and deliver real-time analysis of data collected from patients with COVID-19. The research platform will support the implementation and evaluation of adaptive clinical trials and provide clinical decision support systems to predict risks associated with COVID-19. For example, we know that some people who become infected will never be admitted to hospital, yet others can get sick very quick and end up in intensive care. Our tool aims to be able to predict exactly which people will need to be treated in hospital and what sorts of treatments will work best for that individual – allowing doctors to be guided by the real-time analysis of their patient’s data.
What is your role in the project? I am a co-investigator and the clinical lead. I am helping to ensure that the models used for the decision support harness the best available knowledge from clinical and subject matter experts across Australia, and also working to ensure that model outputs are presented in a way that will be useful for clinicians. I am also working to bridge the connections between clinical management and healthcare embedded clinical trials using decision support tools.
What excites you most about working on the project? We are working to achieve something new and innovative that has the ability to change the trajectory of patients with COVID-19 at a time where the rapid development of evidence is critical. We have the potential to have a major impact on both individual and public health. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel virus that it is perplexing scientists and doctors around the world. Our clinical decision support systems are based on mathematical models that aim to deeply understand the mechanism of disease and verify this understanding with clinical data. The process of developing the models and output they produce are truly fascinating and could change the way we use data in medicine.
What do you see as the key benefits of this project for the University of Sydney? Like all universities, the University of Sydney has an important role to play in helping clinicians understand COVID-19 and in finding better ways to prevent and manage the disease. Beyond any immediate impact on COVID-19, much of the infrastructure and knowledge generated from this project will form a basis for many other projects. For example we hope to build a system that is able to extract and utilize routinely collected clinical data from the electronic medical record (EMR) without burdening clinical staff. This process, as well as the associated governance systems developed to maintain data integrity and protect patient privacy, will provide long lasting solutions for researchers at the University of Sydney.
How is working on an industry research project through the DHCRC different than other research projects you have been an investigator on? It has brought together a great collaborative team with so many brilliant ideas and knowledge of different industries to work towards the same goal through innovative solutions and evidence-based practice. We are able to work together to solve some really challenging issues.
What does success look like for you on this project? Having a meaningful impact on individual and public health during this pandemic and developing solutions that can be utilized for many years to come.