Coronavirus informatics companies are drawing clinical laboratory test data out of the shadows and into the light and compiling it into critical bioinformatics resources

What better example do we have that clinical laboratory test data is critical to population health than the current COVID-19 pandemic? Medical laboratory scientists, bioinformatics developers, and government healthcare leaders are using lab test data to track the disease’s rate of infection, and through information system dashboards, they are mapping and managing the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 illness.

One such example is the CV19 Lab Testing Dashboard developed by hc1 in Indianapolis, which “integrates SARS-CoV-2 testing data from more than 20,000 testing locations across the country, updating every four hours with information on the number of tests performed and the number of positive and negative results along with demographic information like the gender and age of patients being tested,” noted an article by 360Dx titled, “SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic a Test Case for Role of Lab Data in Population Health.”  

“This pandemic is putting a spotlight on how important lab data is,” Brad Bostic, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of hc1, told the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ). His bioinformatics firm developed the CV19 dashboard, which draws on data created by a healthcare coalition of commercial and health system clinical laboratories that use the company’s High-Value Care Platform for lab testing. 

The CV19 Lab Testing dashboard is free and provides a Local Risk Index that enables public health and government agencies, and healthcare providers, to monitor escalation of infection rate at the county level and predict the need for resources, noted an hc1 news release.

“We can offer insights [about the outbreak] seven to 14 days ahead of when emergency rooms and intensive care units get bogged down,” Bostic told the IBJ.

The hc1 dashboard provides healthcare providers with:

  • Test data collected from 20,000 locations covering 50 states and 90% of counties;
  • Information updates within minutes of SARS-CoV-2-PCR test results;
  • Test data that are quickly shared through an intuitive interface;
  • Geographic maps of test results that enable insight on COVID-19 infection rates at single county or Public Use Microdata Area level;
  • Number of tests per day, as well as positive and negative results; and
  • Displays of positivity rates and aggregated demographic information, such as gender and age.

Geisinger Health Uses Dashboard, Clinical Lab 2.0

The use of medical laboratory tests results in pursuit of population health also illustrates the value of the Clinical Lab 2.0 model, noted 360Dx.

According to 360Dx, Geisinger Health System, a leader in Clinical Lab 2.0, employs informatics tools for population-centric (as opposed to patient-focused) analysis of its SARS-CoV-2 testing. The Pennsylvania-based healthcare system uses lab testing dashboards to:

  • Review laboratory results in aggregate;
  • See positivity rates per county; and
  • Note amount of testing from sites.
“We needed to make sure that everyone could see the amount of testing that was being done, where that testing was coming from, and the results of that testing in a much [clearer] way. We began by setting up dashboards,” Jordan Olson, MD (above), a clinical pathologist and Geisinger’s Division Chief of Clinical Pathology, Informatics and Quality, told 360Dx. [Photo copyright: Cardinal Health/Whitehat Communications.)

Clinical Lab 2.0, a Project Santa Fe initiative, is a “business model leveraging longitudinal data to produce actionable clinical insight driving better outcomes for patients, providers, and stakeholders,” states the nonprofit organization’s website.

In “Clinical Lab 2.0 Advances as Project Santa Fe Foundation Secures Nonprofit Status, Prepares to Share Case Studies of Medical Laboratories Getting Paid for Adding Value,” October 7, 2019, Dark Daily noted Clinical Lab 2.0’s emphasis on adding value beyond timely reporting of accurate lab results—especially in chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Sonora Quest Gets Fast Insights on Dashboard

Sonora Quest Laboratories in Arizona also uses a dashboard to support its front-line healthcare workers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, stated a news release.

“Most data flowing into public sector sites is eight to 14 days old, which in the case of COVID-19, is too told to react. Public health action requires the most immediate data possible, including test orders and results as soon as they appear,” said Meghan Shapiro Hunter, Vice President of Operations, Hospital Laboratories, Sonora Quest Laboratories, in the news release.

Other Informatics Technology Tracking COVID-19 Pandemic

Medial EarlySign develops AlgoMarkers that “perform algorithmic processing of lab results, clinical, and EHR data to provide condition-specific, post-analytical, personalized patient risk assessment scores to physicians, population health managers, and healthcare teams,” according to the medical informatics company’s website.

Headquartered in Israel, Medial worked with Maccabi Healthcare Services to develop an AlgoMarker that clinical laboratories, healthcare systems, and life sciences companies can use to spot trends in COVID-19 patients and make disease predictions based on risk, gender, co-morbidities, and medications, noted 360Dx.

Medial EarlySign also developed AlgoMarker algorithms to foresee influenza complications. According to a news release, the algorithms work by flagging people according to:

  • medical parameters,
  • demographics,
  • hospital admissions,
  • medications,
  • smoking history,
  • past diagnoses, and
  • chronic conditions.

Clinical Laboratory Data Enters the Spotlight

For some time now, medical laboratory data have been supporting positive outcomes and improving patient health from behind the curtain, so to speak. However, that appears to be changing fast as bioinformatics and medical informatics companies compile data in compelling dashboards aimed at helping public officials and healthcare providers manage the spread of COVID-19. 

Pathologists, clinical laboratory leaders, and informatics specialists may want to explore use of dashboards to support their population health and COVID-19 testing efforts.

—Donna Marie Pocius

Related information:

SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic A Test Case for Role of Lab Data in Population Health

Indy Tech Firm Hc1 Joins COVID-19 Fight with Real-Time Lab Analytics Tool

Hc1 Platform Delivers Unique COVID-19 Insights

CV19 Lab Testing Dashboard Powered by hc1 Identifies Emerging Local Hot Spots Earlier

Sonora Quest Laboratories Partners with hc1 for the Launch of the CV19 Lab Testing Dashboard to Support Public Health Response

EarlySign Announces Availability of AI Clinical Risk Predictor for COVID-19 Machine Learning-Based Solution to be Made Available at No Cost to Healthcare Organizations

Clinical Lab 2.0 Advances as Project Santa Fe Foundation Secures Nonprofit Status, Prepares to Share Case Studies of Medical Laboratories Getting Paid for Adding Value