Germany is one of the first countries in Europe to introduce a national research platform, or register, for COVID-19 patients which is based on an open-data platform. As one of the partners, the Slovenian company Better is also working to help develop and establish it. The project is valued at 5 million euros, and the register is expected to be completed in May 2021.
Germany is one of the first European countries to decide on setting up a national research platform to monitor the epidemic as well as the condition and treatment of COVID-19 patients. This is an important leap from what has been until now just statistical data collection, as can be seen in most countries. Hospitals will collect real-time data on patient treatment, diagnoses, medications taken by the patient, procedures which were carried out, information on potential complications with treatment, and similar phenotypic data. All of this information will be stored in a unified and anonymous form within the research platform. The project includes all 35 public hospitals in Germany, and is being led by the HiGHmed Consortium.
“Three years ago, our company joined the HiGHmed initiative which, in addition to Berlin’s Charité hospital, also includes seven of Germany’s university hospitals. Basically, the HiGHmed Consortium chose Better Platform to collect and standardise information for all of the hospitals involved. In this way, they have established an infrastructure which will enable the exchange of unified and standardised data for research and development. During the COVID-19 pandemic they made an important step forward, and at the start of the summer they set up an application for monitoring and analysing COVID-19 on our platform. During a pandemic it is even more important for health data to be collected in a uniform way, as this allows for the data to be combined and analysed in real time. In turn, this means being able to make quick decisions on the basis of quality information and analyses,” explains Tomaž Gornik, CEO of Better.
Recently, Germany announced that in the course of the next four years it will invest as much as 4 billion euros into the digitalisation of healthcare. A national call for tenders was issued for the collection of research data on the effectiveness of individual medications and treatments for COVID-19 patients. The HiGHmed Consortium was the winner, and, in the project to establish a national research platform for COVID-19, all 35 of Germany’s university hospitals will be involved. All of them will then use the infrastructure set up by the HiGHmed initiative.
“The basic purpose of the research platform, or COVID-19 registry, is the real-time collection of data on the course of the disease and the treatment of COVID-19 patients. This will form the basis for research on the effectiveness of individual treatment methods. The establishment of this register will enable us to quickly determine which forms of treatment are the most effective, and this will help doctors with their work. In the long-term, this register will allow for the collection of a large amount of data and knowledge about the virus, and this information will be available for experts to help develop medication and vaccines,” adds Gornik.
With the increased risks of pandemics, Germany’s research platform, or COVID-19 register, will also serve as a basis for setting up all other registries for any potential pandemics in the future.