Global infectious disease surveillance and case tracking system for COVID-19: Development study

Hsiu An Lee, Hsin Hua Kung, Yuarn Jang Lee, Jane C.J. Chao, Jai Ganesh Udayasankaran, Hueng Chuen Fan, Kwok Keung Ng, Yu Kang Chang, Boonchai Kijsanayotin, Alvin B. Marcelo, Chien Yeh Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: COVID-19 has affected more than 180 countries and is the first known pandemic to be caused by a new virus. COVID-19's emergence and rapid spread is a global public health and economic crisis. However, investigations into the disease, patient-tracking mechanisms, and case report transmissions are both labor-intensive and slow. Objective: The pandemic has overwhelmed health care systems, forcing hospitals and medical facilities to find effective ways to share data. This study aims to design a global infectious disease surveillance and case tracking system that can facilitate the detection and control of COVID-19. Methods: The International Patient Summary (IPS; an electronic health record that contains essential health care information about a patient) was used. The IPS was designed to support the used case scenario for unplanned cross-border care. The design, scope, utility, and potential for reuse of the IPS for unplanned cross-border care make it suitable for situations like COVID-19. The Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources confirmed that IPS data, which includes symptoms, therapies, medications, and laboratory data, can be efficiently transferred and exchanged on the system for easy access by physicians. To protect privacy, patient data are deidentified. All systems are protected by blockchain architecture, including data encryption, validation, and exchange of records. Results: To achieve worldwide COVID-19 surveillance, a global infectious disease information exchange must be enacted. The COVID-19 surveillance system was designed based on blockchain architecture. The IPS was used to exchange case study information among physicians. After being verified, physicians can upload IPS files and receive IPS data from other global cases. The system includes a daily IPS uploading and enhancement plan, which covers real-time uploading through the interoperation of the clinic system, with the module based on the Open Application Programming Interface architecture. Through the treatment of different cases, drug treatments, and the exchange of treatment results, the disease spread can be controlled, and treatment methods can be funded. In the Infectious Disease Case Tracking module, we can track the moving paths of infectious disease cases. The location information recorded in the blockchain is used to check the locations of different cases. The Case Tracking module was established for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track cases and prevent disease spread. Conclusions: We created the IPS of infectious diseases for physicians treating patients with COVID-19. Our system can help health authorities respond quickly to the transmission and spread of unknown diseases, and provides a system for information retrieval on disease transmission. In addition, this system can help researchers form trials and analyze data from different countries. A common forum to facilitate the mutual sharing of experiences, best practices, therapies, useful medications, and clinical intervention outcomes from research in various countries could help control an unknown virus. This system could be an effective tool for global collaboration in evidence-based efforts to fight COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20567
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Blockchain
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 defense
  • HL7 FHIR
  • Infectious disease surveillance
  • International collaboration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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