[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the United Kingdom very hard, with confirmed cases currently being approximately 248,000 and deaths attributed to the virus now totalling over 35,000. There has been a flurry of press articles and discussions on the dangers of the second wave (Wave 2) which could hit the UK by autumn (1, 2).
Due to digitalisation of patient records in the NHS, an immense amount of patient data has been collected during the pandemic by healthcare providers in the UK, which contains important health information on asymptomatic patients, individuals that were infected and were able to be successfully discharged following treatment or those who succumbed to the virus whilst in hospital. This information is of immense value and needs to be considered as part of the COVID-19 Wave 2 mitigation strategy.
Whilst a search for an effective vaccine is a high priority, significant efforts should be made to utilise collected health data to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 Wave 2 on vulnerable parts of the community such as the frail and elderly, those with an underlying health condition or those who form part of ethnic minority groups such as the Jewish or Afro-Caribbean communities.
Healthcare providers (primary and secondary care) in the United Kingdom should consider the following:
- Combining data sets of patients within primary and secondary care to enable a deeper understanding of the spread of the virus. This dataset could later be combined with the data generated from the contact tracing app.
- Determine who needs to be better protected, either with wearable devices, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or continued isolation in their homes. This should form part of individualised support and guidance for each resident in the United Kingdom.
- Consider incorporating health data from wearable devices into electronic patient records so that worsening conditions can be flagged up earlier.
- Advise of locations which are prone to higher increases in infection rates so they can be considered for earlier or more stringent lockdown or stricter social distancing policies pre-autumn 2020.