Amsterdam institutions leading fight against coronavirus

Hospitals and academic centres in Amsterdam are joining together to help lead the fight against coronavirus. All hospitals in the Netherlands, along with data scientists from higher education and the business sector, are working on developing new machine learning models to help evaluate which coronavirus treatment works best for a given patient. The collaboration, of which the National Intensive Care Evaluation (NICE) foundation is also a part, is also aiming to develop a way to predict the course of the disease in an infected patient.

Coordinated by Amsterdam UMC together with VU Amsterdam and Maastricht UMC, the project’s primary goal is to better estimate what treatments and healthcare capacities are required to properly deal with the current healthcare crisis around coronavirus.

Accessing data without disrupting treatment

The research will use data collected by hospitals while treating corona patients. A key precondition for the study, according to Amsterdam UMC intensivist Dr Paul Elbers, is to avoid putting further pressure on the medical specialists treating coronavirus patients.

“A lot of the data collected during intensive care treatment will be done automatically via the patient’s electronic medical file,” says Dr Elbers. “There are many other healthcare professionals and data scientists who are more than willing to collect and analyse the data. In this way, everyone can contribute.”

Helping ease pressure on intensive care units

“On the basis of the data of hundreds of patients, we hope in the short-term to develop a prediction model for the future respiratory needs of new COVID-19 patients,” says intensivist Marcel Ariës of Maastricht UMC. “In this way, we can better predict who will eventually need an intensive care bed – and when.”

Any collected data, which would include lab test results and scans, will undergo a ‘pseudonymisation’ procedure to minimise the risk of personal information being linked to a patient. With COVID-19 creating a public health emergency, patients and their families will not be asked to give their approval before the data can be used. However, patients and their families can choose to object to the hospital directly to opt out of the scheme.

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