HHS is improving tracking of COVID-19 vaccine trials with an Oracle cloud system

The Oracle Health Management System collects real-time treatment data from people outside the traditional health care system, which will make circulating a vaccine easier.
vaccine vials
(Getty Images)

The Department of Health and Human Services improved tracking of clinical trials and registrations for potential COVID-19 vaccines by developing a cloud data platform with Oracle, says former CIO José Arrieta.

The Oracle Health Management System uses digital identifiers to track the outcomes of people who have received COVID-19 treatment or therapies as part of clinical trials to determine their efficacy. Previously, before a cloud management system, this was difficult to track after patients were discharged from the hospital, Arrieta said.

HHS implemented the technology in July but didn’t announce it before Arrieta left the job Aug. 28.

Collecting data from people once they’ve left the health care system is critical to getting a vaccine in the hands of as many people as possible.


“There are 340 million people that need to get vaccinated in this country, and we know not all of them will get vaccinated,” Arrieta said at ACT-IAC’s Reimagine Nation ELC 2020 on Wednesday. “And we still need to have people volunteer for clinical trials, but there was no mechanism to actually reach those people directly.”

The Oracle Health Management System creates digital identifiers for state and federal governments, machine endpoints and people.

Volunteers — of which there were nearly 700,000 when Arrieta departed HHS — can walk into a CVS, buy an over-the-counter COVID-19 test, scan the QR code, and establish an electronic health record on their mobile device to register for clinical trials or a forthcoming vaccine.

Previously clinical trials treating other diseases largely went through states or hospital systems, but the federal government can use the system to manage them now.

“One of the biggest obstacles is really a lack of transparency and integration in our health care technology systems, and that’s across the country and globally,” said Rebecca Laborde, master principal scientist for clinical innovation at Oracle. “And we lack the ability to gather real-time data from patients and providers, especially when any kind of care occurs outside of the traditional health care system.”


Oracle is also working with the National Institutes of Health to support the COVID-19 Prevention Network by creating the Volunteer Screening Registry.

People can visit the site to learn more about clinical trials and take a five-minute, pre-screening survey to volunteer for Operation Warp Speed, the government’s program to produce 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses by January 2021.

“We really need to have a large number of Americans volunteer for these trials representing different demographics all across the country,” Laborde said. “So it’s a really easy way for people to volunteer and get involved.”

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