Platform C19 – a novel solution to facilitate real-life COVID-19 evidence-based research

Optimum Patient Care UK (OPC) and world-leading Singapore-based research organisation, the Observational Pragmatic Research Institute (OPRI) have collaborated and launched the novel Platform C19, which enables research into whether chronic disease and their treatment impacts on outcomes from COVID 19.

Platform C19 was developed with leading academics and healthcare practitioners, whereby this unique research database will enable a range of exciting research questions to be answered.

As part of the ongoing effort to combat this unprecedented virus, Platform C19 aims to facilitate evidence-based research efforts related to COVID-19. By linking data from health records with patient-reported information from bespoke questionnaires, this database is in a unique position to provide comprehensive information missing from other real-life datasets such as shielding behaviour, undiagnosed COVID 19 and patient centred outcomes.

Particularly, the use of questionnaires enables more inclusive research by targeting patients who have been shielding – i.e., self-quarantining or refraining from visiting the doctor due to concerns about contracting the virus – a common confounder in current COVID-19 research. Furthermore, while shielding behaviours have an impact on COVID-19 infections and outcomes, they also affect the management and progression of other chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, etc, as patients may experience significant gaps in their care. Better characterising this population is therefore a vital step in ensuring they continue to receive appropriate care despite the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on every aspect of daily life,” said Professor David Price, the founder of OPRI. “While we have made great strides in characterising this disease and targeting treatment, there needs to be a focused effort on understanding its wider impact.”

Current research objectives of Platform C19 include describing the population with suspected or confirmed disease, gaining insight into patient behaviours during this pandemic and their effects on health-related outcomes, better understanding the complex relationships between chronic conditions and COVID-19, as well as assessing the impact of lockdowns on high-risk groups. As Platform C19 collects data in an ongoing, longitudinal manner, it also enables quality research on long-term COVID-19.

However, this list is not exhaustive. An integral part of Platform C19 is its open and collaborative nature – anyone is welcomed to seek grants from third parties to use this data resource to conduct their own research.

Platform C19 currently holds information on more than 30,000 patients and is rapidly expanding. An initial look at the data reveals some important insights – a significant proportion of patients who suspect they have COVID-19 do not seek medical attention, many individuals feel like the pandemic has had an impact on their mental health, and the management of chronic conditions such as asthma has taken a hit.

“Coordinating the COVID-19 response has certainly been a challenge,” said Professor Rupert Jones, Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Plymouth and Professor of Primary Care at OPRI. “In March last year, we knew almost nothing about this disease that was wreaking havoc in the UK and around the world. Through real-world data collected from primary care and hospitals, we have a better understanding of it now. We are beginning to understand the patterns of the disease and the way it affects individuals, but it is a constant learning exercise. It is clear that many people have been affected with long-term symptoms and the effects on health services will persist for a long time. However, with accurate data, we can find the best ways to help people.”