HOUSTON - Researchers at UTHealth are asking for your help to find better treatments for COVID-19.
They're teaming up with the Centers for Disease Control and using a high-tech app to track long-term effects of the virus.
One thing we've all learned about COVID-19 is it affects everyone differently. The CDC is gathering every piece of information it can to try to get a better understanding of it.
The University of Texas Health Science Center is one of eight sites in the country joining the new study to see how the coronavirus is affecting Houstonians.
The INSPIRE trial stands for Innovative Support for Patients with SARS COV-2 Infections Registry, and patients will be recruited from Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. A novel app will follow their COVID symptoms.
"We're learning and implementing real time. So this app allows community members to connect their medical information with electronic medical record to the heeded Hugo Health app, so that we can get that information that will inform how we treat patients, how we learn about what is expected long term with COVID positive patients, and it allows us to identify whether patients who have symptoms of COVID and test negative become positive over time or if they're able to sustain their negative status," explains Dr. Mandy Hill with UT Health.
She wants to reassure anyone who might be concerned about releasing their personal information.
"They have full control over what they want to share. That's what's unique about this study, you can make your medical record information if you feel comfortable doing so, with that is a requirement for participation, but you can choose how much you want to share with the study," says Dr. Hill.
She tells us they're looking for people over the age of 18 who've experienced symptoms of COVID-19 and got tested within the last six weeks. It just takes a few minutes to sign up and patients can do it from the comforts of home.
"When we identify eligible patients, which are Houstonians who have symptoms of COVID, and are tested for COVID, they can go on to the Hugo Health website, which is our COVID Inspire website. And part of the enrollment process is to connect your medical record information like for instance, with my chart, you will use your username and password to connect your medical record with the Hugo Health app," says Dr. Hill.
Dr. Hill says patients will get surveys every three months throughout an 18-month period to check in on them and identify their symptoms.
"Here in Houston, we want to get the information so that we can treat people and provide them with the care that they absolutely need."
The other goal is to help prepare for another possible pandemic in the future. Dr. Hill feels this new project could be a game-changer in battling COVID.
"Oh, it's a huge deal. Now the CDC is our public health powerhouse. It is our source of information. So the fact that the CDC is starting to fund this study really speaks to the importance of the data that the study will produce," says Dr. Hill.