Minnesota Electronic Health Record Consortium COVID-19 Project: Informing Pandemic Response Through Statewide Collaboration Using Observational Data

Tyler N.A. Winkelman, Karen L. Margolis, Stephen Waring, Peter J. Bodurtha, Rohan Khazanchi, Stefan Gildemeister, Pamela J. Mink, Malini DeSilva, Anne M. Murray, Nayanjot Rai, Julie Sonier, Claire Neely, Steven G. Johnson, Alanna M. Chamberlain, Yue Yu, Lynn M. McFarling, R. Adams Dudley, Paul E. Drawz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Robust disease and syndromic surveillance tools are underdeveloped in the United States, as evidenced by limitations and heterogeneity in sociodemographic data collection throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota, we developed a federated data network in March 2020 using electronic health record (EHR) data from 8 multispecialty health systems. Materials and Methods: In this serial cross-sectional study, we examined patients of all ages who received a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test, had symptoms of a viral illness, or received an influenza test from January 3, 2016, through November 7, 2020. We evaluated COVID-19 testing rates among patients with symptoms of viral illness and percentage positivity among all patients tested, in aggregate and by zip code. We stratified results by patient and area-level characteristics. Results: Cumulative COVID-19 positivity rates were similar for people aged 12-64 years (range, 15.1%-17.6%) but lower for adults aged ≥65 years (range, 9.3%-10.7%). We found notable racial and ethnic disparities in positivity rates early in the pandemic, whereas COVID-19 positivity was similarly elevated across most racial and ethnic groups by the end of 2020. Positivity rates remained substantially higher among Hispanic patients compared with other racial and ethnic groups throughout the study period. We found similar trends across area-level income and rurality, with disparities early in the pandemic converging over time. Practice Implications: We rapidly developed a distributed data network across Minnesota to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings highlight the utility of using EHR data to monitor the current pandemic as well as future public health priorities. Building partnerships with public health agencies can help ensure data streams are flexible and tailored to meet the changing needs of decision makers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
JournalPublic Health Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • health disparities
  • health informatics
  • infectious diseases
  • public health surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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