The setting: the global COVID-19 outbreak
COVID-19 is a pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization. It is spreading almost simultaneously in many countries around the world. Governments are taking urgent and aggressive actions to change the course of the COVID-19 outbreak, which is currently not yet under control.
The problem: little is known about the disease
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting millions of people and expected to raise considerable excess mortality around the globe. The number of infected cases in need of care at healthcare facilities exceeds the available resources even in countries with well-developed healthcare systems. On the one hand, this will lead to overcrowded hospitals and intensive care units. On the other, many persons at risk or with mild signs and symptoms will be sent for self-isolation and disease monitoring at home.
Still, little is known about COVID-19. It is not yet clear what the exact clusters of signs and symptoms are that persons infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus experience. Although some sub-populations at particular risk of a more serious disease course have been recognized it becomes increasingly clear that also younger people who apparently are otherwise healthy can die from COVID-19.
There is a lack of data which could enable the development of digital biomarkers for the early identification of people at risk of the severe COVID-19 courses. The availability of reliable tools for disease prediction and outcome prognosis will help to establish targeted COVID-19 management strategies – much needed to save resources and prevent the collapse of healthcare systems.
How FORTA helps?
FORTA is an easy-to-use online application to be immediately used by persons with an either suspected or secured COVID-19 diagnosis as well as their household members and other persons from their closer environment, with the purpose of early detecting more severe courses of COVID-19 at risk of hospitalization. As they have access to the individual data sets they are empowered for the early initiation of measures for the prevention of COVID-19 aggravation.
The data is collected through structured daily reports that are developed in collaboration with medical experts. In the background, these data will be analyzed in real-time for trends of symptoms that meet critical data thresholds, indicating aggravation of the medical condition and potentially high-risk cases. persons infected with the SARS-CoV-2 and their close relatives, for a continuous real-world monitoring of symptoms. The real-world data set collected with FORTA through daily reports and tracking at a very large scale (potentially for hundred thousand individuals) will will support public health as well as clinical and epidemiological research organizations in their studies to better understand SARS-CoV-2 contagiousness and the COVID-19 disease trajectories. These organizations will be supported with sophisticated AI-driven and data analytics tools within the platform of FORTA, in order to facilitate the exploration of the dataset for research purpose.
The data will also increase public knowledge on how COVID-19 affects individuals, their close families, different age groups, larger communities, and eventually global societies.
FORTA is an initiative aligned with the activities of the EIT Health-funded innovation project RealWorld4Clinic, which brings real-world data to pivotal clinical research and outpatient cardiology care.
How FORTA works?
FORTA is a Web application that may be accessed via any Web browser in mobile phone or desktop computer. Through a simple Web interface, individuals may complete every day quick health reports for themselves and their close relatives. If the following day there is no change in symptoms, the reporter may complete a checkup with 1 or 2 questions only. The user is encouraged to use FORTA for reporting anytime, if symptoms have changed during the day for themselves or their relatives.
FORTA secures data protection and privacy. It is built upon a GDPR-compliant platform in which no personal identification information (e.g. name, id, etc.) is registered; the only personal data processed are age, gender, and city. Furthermore, the fully anonymized data are stored on a closed, secure ISO-certified server in Germany.