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Digital Health Platform Aids Clinicians In COVID-19 Treatment

A $4 million digital health project involving health services, clinicians and researchers will enable front line medical workers treating COVID-19 patients to use real-time data and analysis to improve health outcomes.

The Digital Health CRC‘s Clinical Data and Analytics Platform (CDAP)  will help decision-making by clinicians by providing nationally available real-time analytics on the progression of COVID-19 to severe disease.

Digital Health CRC CEO Dr Victor Pantano said COVID19 had created an unprecedented challenge.

“We currently don’t have well established and proven treatments for COVID-19 anywhere in the world,” Dr Pantano said.

“The COVID19 pandemic highlights the need to have effective and timely ways to gather information about people and to analyse this immediately so that doctors can use that information to guide the way they treat the patient in front of them.

“Such real time use of data has not been possible to date. CDAP is one way in which this can be achieved.”

Professor Matthew Bellgard, QUT’s eResearch Director, is leading the CDAP project and acutely recognises the imperative to work closely with patients and support medical staff dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic to obtain immediate access to the latest treatment strategies and clinical trial outcomes.

“The close involvement of both Queensland and New South Wales Health departments will ensure sharing and cross-fertilisation of knowledge and expertise of health professionals across both states for real world impact,” Professor Bellgard said.

“We are also working closely with consumer groups and privacy and ethics experts to ensure that the way we create and use the platform complies with the expectations of the community and legislation.”

The CDAP is based on funded work by MTPConnect. The project’s partners include the Digital Health CRC, Queensland HealthNSW HealthCommonwealth HealthQUTMonash University and the University of Sydney.

University of Sydney’s Professor Tom Snelling, who is CDAP’s clinical lead, said the COVID-19 pandemic had shown how quickly clinicians needed to be able to adapt to changing conditions.

“We need digital solutions that improve our knowledge of how best to manage people with COVID-19 in near real time,” Professor Snelling said.

“The CDAP has been built to rapidly extract and organise clinical data, which will help us learn why some people have severe disease and which treatments result in the best outcomes.”

Professor Tim Shaw, the Digital Health CRC’s Director of Research, said the platform would support clinicians during the COVID-19 crisis but also had a longer and broader focus.

“We have funded this project both to support COVID-19 outcomes as well provide a lasting platform that can be used for multiple care contexts,” Professor Shaw said.

“This project will allow us to help solve some of the issues we face in accessing and sharing national data sets to support frontline care.”

Professor Ann Nicholson, of Monash University, who is leading the analytical modelling aspects of CDAP, said causal Bayesian networks would help clinicians and scientists understand COVID-19 disease and health outcomes in an organised way.

“This decision support tool will be used to predict which patients will need hospital and intensive care admission, as well as the likely outcomes of interventions, as we learn more about this disease over time,” Professor Nicholson said.

“We hope that this approach can save lives but also keep more people out of hospital, which will put less pressure on our healthcare systems.”

Queensland Health Assistant Deputy Director-General and Chief Clinical Information Officer Keith McNeil said: “Queensland health is delighted to partner with academic and industry leaders on what is a critical initiative, not only in aiding our response to COVID19, but also in building the digital ecosystem for the future delivery of healthcare.”

QUT’s Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation, Professor Christopher Barner-Kowollik, and Professor Robyn Ward, Executive Dean Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney joined together to say both institutions were very pleased to supporting a team with a proven track record of research excellence across a number of specialities ranging from digital health, governance, adaptive clinical trials, Bayesian network modelling and clinical decision making.

“Within this consortium, QUT’s strength are critically required in an overarching team effort to address the most pressing needs in digital health in the context of our COVID-19 response,” Professor Barner-Kowollik said.The research described in this project is conducted with funding support from the Digital Health CRC (Cooperative Research Centre).  The DHCRC is established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.


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