Evidence-Based Health Informatics as the Foundation for the COVID-19 Response: A Joint Call for Action

Luis Fernandez-Luque, Andre W. Kushniruk, Andrew Georgiou, Arindam Basu, Carolyn Petersen, Charlene Ronquillo, Chris Paton, Christian Nohr, Craig E. Kuziemsky, Dari Alhuwail, Diane Skiba, Elaine Huesing, Elia Gabarron, Elizabeth M. Borycki, Farah Magrabi, Kerstin Denecke, Linda W.P. Peute, Max Topaz, Najeeb Al-Shorbaji, Paulette LacroixRomaric Marcilly, Ronald Cornet, Shashi B. Gogia, Shinji Kobayashi, Sriram Iyengar, Thomas M. Deserno, Tobias Mettler, Vivian Vimarlund, Xinxin Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background  As a major public health crisis, the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic demonstrates the urgent need for safe, effective, and evidence-based implementations of digital health. The urgency stems from the frequent tendency to focus attention on seemingly high promising digital health interventions despite being poorly validated in times of crisis. Aim  In this paper, we describe a joint call for action to use and leverage evidence-based health informatics as the foundation for the COVID-19 response and public health interventions. Tangible examples are provided for how the working groups and special interest groups of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) are helping to build an evidence-based response to this crisis. Methods  Leaders of working and special interest groups of the IMIA, a total of 26 groups, were contacted via e-mail to provide a summary of the scientific-based efforts taken to combat COVID-19 pandemic and participate in the discussion toward the creation of this manuscript. A total of 13 groups participated in this manuscript. Results  Various efforts were exerted by members of IMIA including (1) developing evidence-based guidelines for the design and deployment of digital health solutions during COVID-19; (2) surveying clinical informaticians internationally about key digital solutions deployed to combat COVID-19 and the challenges faced when implementing and using them; and (3) offering necessary resources for clinicians about the use of digital tools in clinical practice, education, and research during COVID-19. Discussion  Rigor and evidence need to be taken into consideration when designing, implementing, and using digital tools to combat COVID-19 to avoid delays and unforeseen negative consequences. It is paramount to employ a multidisciplinary approach for the development and implementation of digital health tools that have been rapidly deployed in response to the pandemic bearing in mind human factors, ethics, data privacy, and the diversity of context at the local, national, and international levels. The training and capacity building of front-line workers is crucial and must be linked to a clear strategy for evaluation of ongoing experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
JournalMethods of Information in Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • medical informatics
  • mobile health
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing
  • Health Information Management


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