DCRI-Led Registry Launches, Invites Healthcare Workers Nationwide to Fight COVID-19 Together

The HERO registry, which can be joined at HeroesResearch.org, will enroll thousands of healthcare workers to answer crucial questions about the impact of novel coronavirus on their lives.

The DCRI-led Healthcare Worker Exposure Response & Outcomes (HERO) Registry launched today, inviting U.S. healthcare workers to share clinical and life experiences in order to understand the perspectives and problems faced by those on the COVID-19 pandemic front lines.

The registry will unite America’s healthcare workers into a community to facilitate rapid-cycle research projects, including an upcoming large study of hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness in preventing coronavirus infections in healthcare workers. The HERO research program leverages PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, and is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

“Healthcare workers treat and protect all of us from COVID-19. With the HERO Registry we aim to develop better measures to protect and support them,” said the DCRI’s Adrian Hernandez, MD, MHS (pictured left), principal investigator of the HERO research program and Vice Dean for Clinical Research for the Duke University School of Medicine, of which the DCRI is part. “The registry will leverage PCORnet resources and capacity to help us develop fast knowledge to keep healthcare workers safe and healthy, which ultimately will help protect us all.”

The HERO Registry is asking hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals to participate, including nurses, therapists, physicians, emergency responders, food service workers, environmental services workers, interpreters, and transporters – anyone who works in a setting where people receive health care.

Emily O'Brien

“We’re calling on all healthcare workers to share their perspectives so that we can understand and provide answers to the problems they face in real time—and over time,” said the DCRI’s Emily O’Brien, PhD (pictured right), principal investigator of the HERO Registry and Assistant Professor in Duke’s Department of Population Health Sciences.

The goals of the registry are to engage healthcare workers in a research community, understand their experiences and interests, and track critical health outcomes associated with caring for patients with COVID-19, such as stress and burnout. The HERO Registry will help speed clinical studies that address unmet needs for healthcare workers, such as an upcoming study of hydroxychloroquine. HERO-HCQ, which will be led by the DCRI’s Susanna Naggie, MD, is a randomized clinical trial of approximately 15,000 HERO Registry participants that will evaluate whether hydroxychloroquine (brand name Plaquenil®) is better than placebo in preventing COVID-19 infection. It will be conducted through clinical research sites in PCORnet.

“Hospitals, health systems, and health plans that participate in PCORnet have worked in partnership for years and are well poised to deliver fast, reliable research infrastructure to study COVID-19,” said Chris Forrest, MD, PhD, co-chair of the HERO Registry and principal investigator of PEDSnet, one of multiple PCORnet Partner Networks participating in HERO-HCQ. “Infrastructure issues that might cause lag time for other studies are hurdles PCORnet has already crossed. PCORnet was developed for exactly this type of research challenge, and the Network is ready to meet the moment.”

There is no cost to join the HERO Registry and it takes only a few minutes to sign up. After joining, registry participants will receive surveys, opportunities to participate in future studies, and learnings from the HERO research community. Healthcare workers can participate as much or as little as they like. The registry will follow a protocol developed by the DCRI and data guidelines to keep healthcare worker information secure.

“It is hard to think that by doing my daily job, not only can I get sick, but I can infect those that I love the most,” said Jorge Lascano, MD, associate professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care, University of Florida, in a video message. “This is the time to be proactive, to develop ways to stay safe on the front lines. I encourage everyone to be a part of HERO—and part of the solution.”

To learn more about the HERO Registry, visit https://heroesresearch.org.

DCRI Executive Director Adrian Hernandez, MD, MHS, speaks with DCRI Program Manager Lauren Cohen, MA, about how this project came to fruition so quickly—and which aspects of rapid start-up can be applied to other pressing public health issues.