People are dying because we’re not fast enough at clinical research

But both remdesivir and chloroquine were identified as potentially active against SARS-CoV-2 in laboratory tests in February, and we still don’t know for sure if they work against the virus in people. Gilead should release some data on remdesivir this month in patients with severe disease, though that study compares two courses of remdesivir, not a control group.

Part of the problem is technology. Electronic health record software in the U.S. is not set up to make clinical research faster and easier, Raj Mehta, a family medicine researcher at Florida Hospital Family Medicine Residency, wrote in an email. There is historical patient data, there are partnerships to use “big data” with machine learning and artificial intelligence. But all that offers little at the present time.

“We have billing claims as, absurdly, our only reliable and easily integratable national source of raw patient data,” Mehta wrote. “What we don’t have is anything useful to produce evidence-based medicine.

“The criticism may seem harsh, but if we could trade all the data silos, all the AI/ML efforts, & all the billing data, for a fully integrated, nationwide, RCT platform in EHRs, we would *all* do it in a heartbeat,” he said.