MedStar Health Launches Study to Understand COVID-19 Spread, Symptoms and Vaccine Adoption

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The CDC-sponsored study is open to the public; Enrollment at MedStarHealth.org/JoinTheFight

Columbia, MD — MedStar Health is proud to announce our participation in a multi-site study that will track the symptoms and spread of the COVID-19 throughout our community as well as vaccine adoption in the coming months. As one of the largest studies of its type, MedStar Health hopes to recruit as many as 60,000 participants, regardless of their COVID-19 status. 

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MedStar Health has begun recruiting patients and asking them to share daily updates of any symptoms and activities related to COVID-19 via email. Researchers will use the information to learn how the virus behaves in our region, including who has it, the locations of disease hot spots, whether prevention strategies are working and who has received the vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded MedStar Health the two-year, $1.7 million contract as part of a large-scale study led by Wake Forest Baptist Health. Other organizations participating include Atrium Health, Tulane University, and the University of Mississippi.

“This robust surveillance study will help us better understand the current state of the pandemic. We will be able to track the transmission of COVID-19, monitor changes in its spread, and measure the effectiveness of prevention strategies,” said William S. Weintraub, MD, Director of Outcomes Research, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute, co-principal investigator on the study. “We are proud to play a leading role in a study that is at the intersection of research, patient care, and operations.”

All members of our community in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  are eligible to participate in the study and can sign-up at MedStarHealth.org/JoinTheFight. Participation is open to anyone, regardless of COVID-19 status. We are starting our recruitment with several waves of emails to MedStar Health patients. MedStar Health will also be sharing information with our clinicians and care teams.

Participants will receive a daily reminder to answer questions including:

  • Do you have a cough, fever or other symptoms?
  • Have you been in contact with someone with COVID-19?
  • Were you wearing a mask?
  • Have you received a flu or COVID-19 vaccine?

“This project represents an innovative way to engage with our community to actively self-report symptoms and events related to COVID-19,” said Kristen E. Miller, DrPH, Scientific Director, National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare, MedStar Health Research Institute, co-principal investigator on the study. “We invite everyone in our region to sign up for this study and help tackle this public health emergency together.”

A subset of patients volunteering for the study will also be invited to participate in a serological testing sub-study. Those volunteers will use an at-home antibody test kit to identify whether they have COVID-19 antibodies in their blood. If antibodies are present, the participant would have been infected with the virus. The researchers will use a representative sample of those who have antibodies to determine the prevalence of immunity to the larger population.

“This research brings together the best of MedStar Health’s researchers, educators, and clinicians to support and care for our community during this critical time,” said Neil J. Weissman, chief scientific officer, MedStar Health and president, MedStar Health Research Institute. “This study is the result of the collaboration across our academic healthcare system, engaging all our patients to help contribute to better understand the spread of COVID-19.”

The app can be accessed on both smartphone and computer. Oracle has built a COVID-19 Patient Monitoring System for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help understand the risk factors for the population. The Patient Monitoring System is run by healthcare systems, which invite members of the population who aren't clinically diagnosed with COVID-19 to participate.

This research study is an opportunity for all members of the MedStar Health community to participate in research and help build a strong understanding of the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org/JoinTheFight.

map of Maryland area showing the number of participants in study

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About MedStar Health Research Institute
MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. For more information, visit www.MedStarResearch.org.

About MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors
The MedStar Health National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare occupies a unique position in the United States as the largest human factors program embedded within a healthcare system. It brings together human factors scientists, systems safety engineers, health services researchers, clinicians, and other experts to create a safer and more efficient healthcare environment through four core services in research, usability, safety advisement, and education. The Center is part of the MedStar Health Research Institute and is also affiliated with the MedStar Institute for Innovation and MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety. MedStar Health, the parent organization, is the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region, with 10 hospitals and an extensive ambulatory services network, and is the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University.

About MedStar Health
At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.