COVID-19 Diagnostics Commons: A data-driven collaboration

Monday, July 27, 2020

To help companies safely move their employees back to the workplace, Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions and the World Economic Forum, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, announced on July 27 the COVID-19 Diagnostics Commons — an interactive hub for the global community to access the very latest information about testing options and to share knowledge and practices for safely bringing back and keeping employees in the workplace during the COVID-19 era. 

The COVID-19 Diagnostics Commons project is co-led by Mara Aspinall, the founder of Health Catalysts Group and a professor of practice at ASU’s College of Health Solutions, and Nate Wade, the senior director of strategic initiatives at the College of Health Solutions.

“We need to take back control from the virus with knowledge,” Aspinall said. “Knowledge is power, and the COVID-19 Diagnostics Commons is designed to give companies around the world the power to leverage data from their peers and bring their employees back to the workplace more safely and effectively. Our survey will gather information, and our educational events will enable discussion so that businesses can collaborate and learn from each other.” 

The survey, which is now open, collects information from employers about who is tested, how frequently, with what test, and at what cost, along with contact tracing response and preparedness needs, plus anticipated and actual challenges experienced over the short and long term. Employers of all types, sizes and geographic locations are invited to complete the survey at ASUcovidcommons.com. The survey is completely anonymous to ensure participant privacy. Once the data is compiled during this first round of outreach, thousands of decision-makers at companies and organizations worldwide, along with policymakers in their regions, will have open access to the results and findings via an interactive online dashboard. 

“Protecting workers is the No. 1 concern for business leaders from around the world,” said Genya Dana, the head of health care transformation at the World Economic Forum. “We believe this new community and the database of current practices and lessons learned will help these leaders accelerate best practices and make informed plans as the pandemic evolves.”

Collaborating with employers to address a global health crisis is an important part of the College of Health Solutions’ mission.

“This new partnership allows us to bring our research, training and education expertise and businesses’ health and safety needs together, aligning with our aim to improve health outcomes worldwide using actionable, evidence-based solutions,” said Deborah Helitzer, the dean of the college.

Real-world, timely and accessible data on workplace reopening, testing and employee safety initiatives is needed to get the global economy back on track. To that end, two critical resources are now available at the COVID-19 Diagnostics Commons with more in development. Current resources include: 

  • The COVID-19 Workplace Commons, which collects and disseminates data to employers, policymakers and funders to better equip them to make informed decisions about back-to-workplace policies, practices and priorities. The information is collected through the global Keeping Workers Well survey deployed quarterly to thousands of employers worldwide. 

  • The COVID-19 Testing Commons, a comprehensive database of COVID-19 tests worldwide containing information on all tests currently on the market and in the pipeline. It is updated regularly and allows users to search by multiple parameters including test type, technology, regulatory status, country of origin and more.

“Workers and consumers around the world not only need to be safe, but also feel safe, and one of the best ways to do this is by expanded access to testing,” said Jonathan “Jono” D. Quick, managing director for pandemic response, preparedness and prevention at the Rockefeller Foundation and author of “The End of Epidemics.” “But with over 1,400 tests currently on the market or in the pipeline, businesses and public health administrators need the right tools to make the right purchase choices. The COVID-19 Testing Commons is that tool to help decision-makers find the tests that most closely match their needs.”

In addition to the interactive online dashboards for workplace practices and test information, ASU and World Economic Forum, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, will help employers and policymakers in scaling and updating their use of testing strategies as the pandemic continues to evolve. These initiatives will include monthly communities of practice focused on testing pain points and solutions, webinars with industry experts focused on how to implement best practices, and case studies of exemplar uses of testing and diagnostics as identified through survey results and communities of practice. All resources will be available at ASUcovidcommons.com.