Recording COVID-19 cases consistently in patient records using ‘SNOMED CT’ codes

For many areas of health data research, the way in which information is recorded in a patient’s notes can be inconsistent, making it more difficult to use at scale for research. SNOMED CT is a comprehensive set of standards and terms for recording clinical healthcare information that helps to ensure records are consistent across different healthcare institutions. HDR UK is working with partners at NHS Digital and the Professional Record Standards Body (PRSB) to help rapidly implement new SNOMED CT codes for COVID-19 and explore how these can be used for research that helps to tackle the pandemic.


HDR UK prioritisation process to support SAGE

The prioritisation process for projects relating to COVID-19 that HDR UK is supporting was published on 14 April. From 20 April onwards this prioritisation process will be fed into the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on a weekly basis.

Coronavirus cell

This prioritisation approach aims to support rapid research using health data  into healthcare outcomes associated with COVID-19 and into potential interventions to reduce the severity of those outcomes. It aims to be scalable, to represent all four nations of the UK, to provide safe and trustworthy access, and to avoid distracting the operational activities of the NHS.

View HDR UK’s priority research questions


Priority project: Examining disparities in COVID-19 outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups in the UK

HDR UK has identified this area as a priority research questions,  and is supporting efforts to explore why BAME groups appear to have more severe outcomes with COVID-19. Colleagues at HDR UK are working with partners to identify datasets that could help address this issue and support access for research.

The areas that are being explored include why BAME groups appear to have increased risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, whether this is caused by social, environmental and/or genetic factors, and whether BAME outcomes differ across the UK and internationally.

View HDR UK’s priority research questions


Blog: We still don’t know how deadly COVID-19 is

This week’s blog comes from Ben Johnson, a member of Health Data Research UK’s Public Advisory Board. Originally published on Microbiology.com, Ben provides his own thorough account of why the fatality rate of the virus is still unclear.

Read Ben’s blog


Updates from our HDR UK and partners on access to health data for research

Public Health England have developed an expedited process for researchers accessing COVID-19 test positive data, meaning that important research to tackle the pandemic can take place more quickly.

In addition, HDR UK is supporting NHSX in defining an accelerated data access process for COVID-19 related data. Researchers wanting to request access to COVID-19 data should continue to contact:

HDR UK is also exploring the possibility of making COVID-19 data from health trusts and hospitals in the UK discoverable through the Innovation Gateway.


More information and tools

  1. HDR UK GitHub repository–The HDR UK community is developing computer-based tools and methodologies to analyse and handle health data, including those that can help overcome the COVID-19 challenge. These are all shared in a central repository, which is open to the public, so that we can all learn from each other and build on each other’s work. They are shared in HDR UK’s area of GitHub.
  2. COVID-19 Slack channels – researchers and innovators looking to collaborate to use health data to address the pandemic can apply to join our dedicated Slack channels. Complete the form to register your interest in joining here.
  3. Take a look at our Skills + Knowledge Matchmaker to see a full list of COVID-190 project ongoing, or visit COVID-19 page to see the latest version of HDR UK’s strategy to support efforts to tackle the pandemic.