Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School using de-identified real-world data from TriNetX found decreased risk of hospitalization and death over time for rheumatic disease patients suffering from COVID-19

Cambridge, MA, January 22, 2021 — TriNetX, the global health research network that revolutionizes clinical research and enables discoveries through the generation of real-world evidence (RWE), announced the publication of a COVID-19 study using real-world data (RWD) from the company’s network. The research, conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and published in The Lancet Rheumatology, found that individuals with autoimmune or immune-suppressing rheumatic diseases are less likely to have severe outcomes such as respiratory failure, renal failure, or death now compared to at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We found improved outcomes for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases after COVID-19 diagnosis in more recent months of the pandemic compared with earlier months,” said Dr. April Jorge, MD, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the paper’s co-first authors. “This finding is likely multi-factorial, due to increased testing capacity allowing for detection of milder cases, improved supportive care, and improved treatments.”

Researchers divided COVID-19 patients into an early cohort (first 90 days of the pandemic, January 20 to April 19, 2020) and a late cohort (subsequent 90 days April 20 to July 19, 2020) with the aim of investigating differences in mortality and other critical outcomes after COVID-19 diagnosis between an early cohort and late cohort of patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.

“Real-world data enabled us to compare these two time-dependent cohorts just nine months into the pandemic,” said Dr. Jorge. “It was crucially important to utilize up-to-date EMR data to study this timely clinical question, whereas other data, such as claims, traditionally incur a greater lag in time before being made available for research.”

The study had access to de-identified data from nearly 51 million patients across 36 healthcare organizations including academic medical centers, community hospitals, specialists, and general practitioners. Researchers studied 8,540 patients, of which 2,811 were in the early cohort and 5,729 in the late cohort. The study is currently available for download on The Lancet website at

The study noted that despite the temporal improvements observed, there continues to be a considerable risk of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 among patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases. The risk of death remains substantial with 5-6% of patients dying within 30 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis within the study.

“Additional research is needed to determine if there is an ideal treatment plan for all patients we identified,” said Dr. Jorge. “However, patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases have unique concerns, and further work is needed to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these patients.”

“The Lancet Rheumatology study reinforces the importance and urgency we place on providing access to up-to-date real-world data to the research community,” said Gadi Lachman, CEO of TriNetX. “We are working diligently with all of our healthcare organizations and data partners to locate and liberate COVID-19 data so that investigators across the globe are better equipped to study risks, treatments and outcomes of the disease.”


About TriNetX
TriNetX is the global health research network that connects the world of drug discovery and development from pharmaceutical company to study site, and investigator to patient by sharing real-world data to make clinical and observational research easier and more efficient. TriNetX combines real time access to longitudinal clinical data with state-of-the-art analytics to optimize protocol design and feasibility, site selection, patient recruitment, and enable discoveries through the generation of real-world evidence. The TriNetX platform is HIPAA and GDPR compliant. For more information, visit TriNetX at or follow @TriNetX on Twitter. 

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