Core Concept: The pandemic is prompting widespread use—and misuse—of real-world data - PNAS

COVID-19 has swept across the world, overwhelming healthcare systems and raising countless questions about how best to diagnose patients, treat infections, save lives, and contain the pandemic. In short order, researchers have launched randomized trials to uncover pharmacologic interventions that hold the promise of preventing or lessening the severity of the disease. But getting results takes time. And time was a luxury that doctors on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight could ill afford in the early months of the pandemic.

Desperate for medical insights without delay—and hoping to address other questions not answerable in a specialized research environment—researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and government agencies immediately turned to health information captured through insurance claims, electronic medical records, patient registries, and other so-called “real-world” data sources.


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