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From app to service — a tool to battle COVID-19

par Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | July 03, 2020
From the July 2020 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Among the symptoms tracked are two key ones: shortness of breath and fever. Those, Seiguer explains, are like a smoke detector going off – something to be concerned about and investigated. The fire alarm occurs if one of those symptomatic individuals tests positive for the virus. At that point, the individual is isolated, contact tracing is carried out and, in turn, those contacts are tested, with the pattern being repeated as much as necessary.

Sebastian Seiguer
Seiguer says the most difficult aspect of the rollout was the exponential growth of the pandemic. For example, in the beginning, Johns Hopkins would find a positive COVID trace, locate the healthcare worker who treated that patient, carry out contact tracing and get that second degree of people into a list for testing. They’d be entered into the app and get a follow-up phone call. “That worked great when there were one or two patients. As the numbers grew, the contact tracing piece got harder. You have exposures you’re not aware of with many asymptomatic people as well,” says Seiguer.

So the process moved from exposure-based monitoring, where emocha would receive a list and upload it to their portal, to broad-based availability. Many thousands of people were enrolled and the software was offered to every single one of them instantly to participate on a voluntary basis.

Seiguer says those initially eager to enroll were professionals who had contact with people testing positive for COVID-19. That evolved into those who might have had contact and eventually grew to a much larger selection of people as the pandemic grew. The learning curve was steep this time due to the rapid progression of the disease, but the app and service will continue to be refined to ensure they’re ready for when the next health crisis occurs.

He also recognized that providing a monitoring service using the app would mean having professionals reviewing the videos to ensure medication management or application technique was performed correctly. In some instances, it might be a nurse reviewing the videos or a pharmacist. An asthma inhaler for example, would be monitored by a nurse.

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