BLOG – E-thons: paving the way for generating faster real world evidence

With the European Health Evidence & Data Network (EHDEN) now in its third year, efforts are more than ever being focused on the second “E” – generating evidence. After its first successful “evidence-a-thon” or e-thon held in July 2021, a second e-thon with five EHDEN Data Partners (DPs) – CPRD, ULSM, FIIBAP, MEDAMAN and IU was organised on the 26th and 27th of January, remotely via MS Teams.

Let’s first clarify some terms: an “e-thon” is a two-day training session that EHDEN created to bring together EHDEN DPs who mapped their data to the OMOP Common Data Model. This offers the DPs a practical way to use an existing research study as a means to familiarise themselves with how to run a study on a particular disease with their newly mapped data in the OMOP CDM, and in using standardised analytical tools with it.

A “study-a-thon” brings together a diverse range of experts to have an uninterrupted, usually week-long deep-dive into OMOP-standardised, anonymous data on a specific disease and generate evidence much faster than ever before. It’s the ability to share standardised data and its fast-tracking dimension that make study-a-thons such a valuable way to generate evidence that ultimately improves patient treatments and outcomes. Some examples of the EHDEN study-a-thons are here, and in collaboration with IMI PIONEER, and OHDSI.

EHDEN created an ‘Evidence Taskforce’ in 2021, led by Prof Dani Prieto-Alhambra, EHDEN’s Research Coordinator, to facilitate a focus on evidence generation through use cases and network studies, as well as expanding its educational activities via study-a-thons and ‘e-thons’, or focused evidence generation events to work with EHDEN DPs who have recently mapped their data to the OMOP Common Data Model.

For the January event, the EHDEN COVID-19 Task Force members, and colleagues from OHDSI, facilitated the two-day agenda, providing very useful educational methods’ sessions, clinical briefings, group sessions, and breakouts. In addition, some DPs who attended the first e-thon also joined to help the new DPs understand their data in this second event.

The aim of this e-thon was to rerun a study on Adverse Events of Special Interest (AESI) within COVID-19 subjects, with the objective to quantify how often AESIs occur in subjects post COVID-19 disease overall and across specific age and sex groups. It is relevant to know how often these AESIs occur amongst patients who suffer the condition vaccines aim to prevent to provide a counterfactual for risk evaluation.

Speeding up the process to generate richer, real world evidence to improve patient outcomes is the name of the game. We certainly look forward to running more e-thons as they truly serve as a practical, hands-on way for DPs to familiarise themselves with their recently OMOP-mapped dataset, as well as to further their understanding of all the analytical processes of conducting these short studies.

Erica A. Voss

Director, Observational Health Data Analytics

Janssen Research & Development

Erica was an OHDSI Titan Award recipient in 2021 for her work in Community Development via the EHDEN COVID-19 ETL Taskforce among other initiatives!