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Using Health Services Research to Address the Unique Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic

JAMA Surg. Published online May 21, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2021.2597


The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound effects on the health care workforce; more than 130 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 3 million deaths have been recorded worldwide as of April 1, 2021.1 To reduce health care resource utilization and increase the expected need for critical care capacity as COVID-19 cases surged, surgical care was dramatically interrupted, with more than 28 million elective surgeries canceled worldwide.2 In response to the major disruptions of surgical care, the Surgical Outcomes Club assembled a 3-part panel to highlight key ways in which the surgical health services research community responded. This Viewpoint serves to disseminate mechanisms for how surgical outcomes researchers can contribute to (1) safely delivering evidence-based surgical care during the pandemic, (2) accelerating the path to health equity in the wake of disparities provoked by the pandemic, and (3) using the unique conditions of the pandemic as a natural experiment to define the future of surgical care delivery.

COVIDSurg Collaborative: Data-Driven Risk Stratification During a Pandemic

The need for timely access to population-specific data is critical to the attainment of optimal surgical outcomes and conducting research that can be used to quickly inform surgical care. Leveraging an existing network of collaborating surgeons and anesthetists across more than 80 countries, the COVIDSurg collaborative was quickly launched to provide evidence to guide the delivery of safe surgery in patients with COVID-19. This sophisticated collaborative has been able to stand up multicenter studies, including cohort and pragmatic randomized clinical trials, to address surgical care delivery using patient-level and system-level data, and to facilitate timely dissemination of study findings.3

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