As the COVID-19 pandemic rapidly spread across the globe in the early months of 2020, the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) responded by launching a major clinical study to test a potential treatment for the illness. Funded by the Government of Quebec, the new study, called COLCORONA, began on March 23, 2020.

More specifically, the MHI set out to evaluate the effectiveness of Colchicine, an anti-inflammatory medicine used for other conditions, in treating adults with severe COVID-19 complications with the goal of reducing hospitalizations and deaths. 

To carry out the study, MHI sought to recruit and select COVID-19 patients—approximately 6,000—to follow for 30 days. The challenge was to manage the recruitment, selection and evaluation processes quickly and securely using digital technology. MHI turned to CGI for help. 

A race against time

With COVID-19 infections on the rise, MHI wanted to move aggressively in starting and completing the study. Technology wise, its key objective was to implement quickly a digital recruitment and monitoring platform. The platform needed to meet the following requirements:


  • Collect participant consent rapidly and securely
  • Be accessible remotely by all potential participants to the study
  • Allow nurses to explain the research protocol in a “user-friendly” way
  • Manage informed consent forms and approvals for a sub-study 

A team of nearly 50 CGI members took on the challenge, working around the clock to design, develop and deliver the secure, robust platform MHI needed.

Registering participants in record time

The platform delivered by CGI is helping MHI to reach its 6,000-participant goal in record time. The platform’s user-friendly website allows patients diagnosed with COVID-19 to register remotely and securely. It also securely synchronizes consent forms between participants and nurses. In addition, for selected patients, the website facilitates and accelerates their participation, while at the same time, protecting their data privacy. 

MHI is using the platform to support clinical study trials across the province of Quebec. Then, in April 2020, it announced strategic partnerships with the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Center in Vancouver, British Columbia and the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City to bring the study to COVID-19 patients in both British Columbia and New York. 

The CGI team helped the MHI to not only respond quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also rebound from it with a state-of-the-art digital clinical study management platform for conducting clinical studies more effectively in the future. In addition, with its customizable architecture, other health institutions worldwide also will be able to use the platform to manage clinical studies, whether related to the pandemic or other critical health issues.