Benefits of linking COVID-19 data
How has linked data been used during the pandemic?
Linked data is being used internationally to explore a range of important research questions on COVID-19, including:
- characteristics and impact of long COVID (Sivan et al. 2022; Kikkenborg Berg et al. 2022; Murch et al. 2022)
- vaccine uptake and effectiveness (Vasileiou et al. 2022; Perry et al. 2022; Nunes et al. 2021; Mirahmadizadeh et al. 2022)
- health care usage (Lambourg et al. 2022; Lai et al. 2022; Kennedy et al. 2022; Murch et al. 2022; Mirahmadizadeh et al. 2022; Krutikov et al. 2022; Davies et al. 2021)
- risk factors for severe disease (Drefahl et al. 2020; Gao et al. 2021; Liu et al. 2021)
- reinfection rates (Cavanaugh et al. 2021; Mensah et al. 2022).
In Australia, there have been some state-based linkage projects that have been extremely insightful, but a national perspective has been missing from the picture (Rowe et al. 2022; Henry et al. 2021). An additional barrier is that linkage projects can be lengthy and costly for researchers. The Australian COVID-19 linked data set project aims to bridge these gaps.
Why is the project important?
The findings of the project will provide many benefits, including:
- The public will benefit as the data will be used to identify risk factors for severity, long term effects and re-infection. This will then inform service planning and guidelines for the treatment and management of COVID-19 and improve immediate, medium, and longer-term health outcomes for people who have had a COVID-19 diagnosis.
- The public will also benefit from the publication of research findings through fact sheets and reports that will make robust, accessible information available in the public domain.
- Health service providers will be able to gain a better understanding of the service and treatment needs of people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and particularly those who develop long term effects of COVID-19 or have had a COVID-19 vaccine, as well as interactions with pre-existing comorbidities.
- Health services providers will understand patterns of service use and medication dispensing by people who have tested positive to COVID-19.
- The research community will benefit from the contribution of knowledge the project will make by filling existing research gaps.
- Existing surveillance systems will be improved through return of linked data at a national level and therefore improve national surveillance reporting.
- The data will enable researchers to monitor and evaluate policies and programs implemented throughout pandemics.
- The platform will provide a foundation for a wide range of future research purposes without these parties having to start from scratch.
- The data will help Commonwealth, state and territory governments plan and manage health resources, for example in aged care facilities.