We live in uncertain times where natural disasters and unpredictable events are on the rise. From fires to floods to volcanic eruptions and draughts, 2020 has been a relentless year, demanding extraordinary mitigation interventions from our end. And now, we are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. This rapidly spreading virus has brought countries to a halt, putting entire cities under quarantine and killing thousands across the globe. As information (and misinformation) spreads, we see rising panic, and healthcare infrastructures crumbling under the unexpected burden.
Digital technologies can play a vital role in helping manage the situation. However, given that there are no ready solutions at hand, companies in the healthcare space – payers, providers etc. need to make quick decisions and move fast on deployment. Let’s take a look at some of the areas technology can impact:
Wellness and prevention interventions
Businesses must come forward in this time of need and help people deal with the turbulent times. Insurance companies especially can take wellness interventions to the population by creating COVID specific apps or portals or opening access to COVID related information on their existing digital assets. Timely and validated information delivered via trusted sources i.e. insurers and Department of Health (DoH) could help prevent the spread of the disease. These apps or webpages could also share important tips on exercise and nutrition and how to manage anxiety and stress during lockdown. For instance, Wipro has developed an Intelligent Conversation Robot (Corona Bot) on our Venture company Avaamo’s AI platform to provide timely information on COVID 19. This bot is available not just to our customers, but also to the general population as a public service.
Diagnosis and triage of cases
Given the recent emergence of the disease and its rapid spread, there are not enough COVID testing kits available. A quick self-assessment based on the DoH checklist, made available via apps or websites could help people self-diagnose and seek help if needed. Based on the results of this assessment, physicians could book appointments on priority for those people who seem most at risk or show severe symptoms. If these cases are pre-identified, physicians can also separate them from regular patients at their clinic and minimize chances of contamination.
Once a person is diagnosed with COVID, it’s important to know their whereabouts in the recent past. Using location data from a person’s phone can pinpoint the general areas that they might have infected unknowingly. This helps government agencies take appropriate action in compromised locations. Technology can also help those in charge keep track of people under home quarantine. This could be done with spot checks using automated tools and asking people to hop on a video call or take a photo in their house with a time stamp etc.
The hospital infrastructure is groaning under the new demands placed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Hospitals are repurposing wards, physicians, nurses for “pandemic response”, moving them away from sub-acute or non-time-critical health issues. To appropriately assign these resources, healthcare facilities need analytics-based dashboards that could provide quick understanding of resource availability.
Analytics would also help us understand this disease better. Already, organizations across the globe are collecting COVID patient data. Propensity and morbidity analysis would help us understand who is more susceptible to this disease and who can recover from it. Pandemic modeling is also going to help glean critical insights on population health and transmission rates.
In addition, telehealth technologies could help reduce health workers’ strain and exposure.
The time to act is now
In Australia, the number of cases is rising exponentially. As on 20th March there were over 700 confirmed cases.