By Kayla Matthews, Productivity Bytes
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting healthcare systems around the world. As a result, many have employed specialized tech for fighting COVID-19. Here are five examples:
1. Remote Monitoring Apps
Many companies have brought remote monitoring apps to the market to aid in managing the pandemic. People with suspected or confirmed symptoms of the virus can use these apps as patches or wristwear, for example, giving physicians continual insights into their conditions. Then, those patients can safely reside at step-down facilities or their homes instead of hospital wards.
Similarly, remote apps to track patients can assist those with chronic conditions by alerting providers to changes that may warrant emergency room visits if not handled. Once a physician sees a consistent downturn in a patient via monitoring app data, they can order medication adjustments or other changes to minimize in-person care as the coronavirus crisis continues.
University of Minnesota Health (M Health) Fairview began using remote monitoring apps to facilitate communications with patients during the COVID-19 outbreak, often to provide educational materials. Statistics indicate 98 percent of M Health's patients said the medical technology helped them avoid calling their doctors or going to the hospital.
2. Telemedicine Visits
Public health experts advise anyone with suspected COVID-19 symptoms to contact their doctors by phone instead of showing up in person. Moreover, if a patient has a compromised immune system or other risk factors for the virus, it's even more important for them to limit physical contact. Many of the medical technology options coming to the forefront relating to telemedicine. Some also combine with the more specific monitoring apps mentioned above.
One platform called pMD reported 12 times the usual number of patients using its telemedicine services in March. A user said her husband has heart and lung problems that make it dangerous for him to go out, but the platform enables talking to a doctor and getting questions answered.
Similarly, Philips introduced a multipart telehealth system to screen people for coronavirus symptoms. People start by filling out a survey and receiving a risk score. Those scoring highest get referred to a call center where representatives take more details from them. The person may get referred to their doctors for further treatment decisions based on the answers given. This pairing of advanced tech and coronavirus treatments lets physicians screen patients without putting themselves in danger.
3. Biospecimen Technology
Many health professionals say testing within populations is one of the most effective ways to keep the COVID-19 pandemic at bay. Lab technicians can now get results in a matter of hours, helping physicians know when to tell their patients to self-isolate.
Biospecimens are also available from people who have recovered from the virus. By giving their blood, urine, and bodily samples to healthcare providers, they have direct and positive impacts on researchers who are working hard to find out more about this novel coronavirus and effective treatments for it.
Additionally, scientists at Georgia Tech developed a model based on antibody tests. They do not know how long a person has immunity after exposure to COVID-19, but they believe recovered, immune persons could act as substitutes for people in high-contact occupations, like healthcare providers.
One model based on a 10-million-person population suggested that an enhanced "shield immunity" approach could reduce the death rate from 71,000 to 20,000 individuals. Antibody tests do not offer 100 percent accuracy, but they may identify people who could participate in economic recovery efforts with less risk than those not yet infected.
4. 3D Printing
3D printing is also often brought up among the examples of tech fighting COVID-19. Countries around the world face supply shortages that additive manufacturing could remedy.
People who own 3D printers and those who engineer printed products are coming together during the COVID-19 fight. Face visors, oxygen valves, and a door handle attachment that lets people operate it with their forearms rather than their hands are among the creations so far.
A team at Oregon State Health and Science University (OHSU) recently developed a ventilator made with 3D printing technology. They say it requires less than $10 worth of materials to make and needs no electricity. Moreover, a person with a printer could produce this vital piece of breathing equipment in as little as three hours. This creation is one of the many examples of how the 3D printer could positively contribute by filling medical technology gaps exacerbated by the coronavirus.
5. Big Data
Health professionals often rely on Big Data to track the spread of other medical risks, such as seasonal flu. A primary advantage of that approach is that platforms can find patterns within thousands or millions of variables, potentially giving more depth to anecdotal evidence. Thus, doctors can get a clearer idea of the overall effects of certain treatments, preventative measures, and more.
Big data could also pinpoint the connection between people's use of tech and coronavirus. Numerous developers launched crowdsourced apps that encourage users to regularly report feeling healthy or having symptoms. One such app compiles the provided data of millions of people across the U.S. and could aid health experts in making smarter, more informed decisions.
For example, dozens of reports of COVID-19 symptoms originating suddenly in one small neighborhood might prompt public officials to distribute more information about proper hand-washing techniques or physical distancing practices. Real-time data highlights areas of potential trouble.
In late April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added six new symptoms to its list associated with COVID-19. They included chills, muscle aches, and a loss of taste or smell. Apps like the one mentioned above that let people record how they feel allow health authorities to give updated information with confidence.
Inspiring Examples of Tech Fighting COVID-19
There's so much disheartening news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic that it's easy to get discouraged. Fortunately, these five examples give people reasons to feel hopeful about technological solutions for conquering the virus.
About The Author
Kayla Matthews is a MedTech writer whose work has appeared on HIT Consultant, Medical Economics, and HITECH Answers, among other industry publications. To read more from Kayla, please connect with her on LinkedIn, or visit her tech blog at https://productivitybytes.com.