COVID-19: Digital Technologies for Public Health Management

October 19, 2020by Tech Innovation Forum

Public health organizations across the globe are leveraging digital technologies to fight against COVID-19. The solutions are helping the organizations in scaling their services, guiding policy decisions and informing people.

The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to take its toll across the world, costing lives and bringing changes to economies around the globe. Before the outbreak, digital technologies were already been increasingly leveraged by the healthcare industry to accelerate and optimize health care delivery. Similarly, digital health technologies are being deployed to meet the urgent needs in the immediate response and later in impact mitigation, during the pandemic.

Digital technologies can provide powerful tools for healthcare professionals for public health management during the crisis. These solutions help people document symptoms in themselves or in others and also assist and support health officials in contact tracing. The digital solutions used today in the fight against COVID-19 can help healthcare organizations in the future if there is any new healthcare crisis or disease outbreak.

Public health organizations need to think of a long-term digital strategy and accelerate their digital initiatives to not only strengthen their fight against COVID-19 but also build capabilities for the future. Gemini Consulting & Services can help you in embracing digital technologies in your organization. Click here to know more about our digital expertise.

Digital Technologies for Public Health Management

Public health infrastructure is under heavy stress due to staff shortages and high coronavirus infection rates. Healthcare organizations need digital health solutions that can help them scale their services with limited staff, collaborate with professionals across geographies and harness data to extract insights. They also need process automation to speedup care delivery. Here are key technologies that can help them improve their care delivery model.

  1. Artificial Intelligence: AI has been a savior to the healthcare professionals in their fight against COVID-19. One of the core principles in public health management during the pandemic involves understanding infection transmission in time and identifying risk factors for the disease to build effective care interventions. AI and other data science technologies are helping healthcare officials in harnessing data collected from multiple sources, organizing it and then processing it with Machine Learning (ML) models to identify outbreak patterns, transmission rates etc. AI is also helping organizations convert their unstructured data in the form of documents, emails and messages etc., into structured data and make sense of it. Natural language processing is also playing a critical role in clinical research. Data visualization tools and dashboards are helping organizations convey complex technical information into the easy-to-understand form for public consumption.
  1. Internet of Things: The very nature of the COVID-19 crisis necessitates physical distancing and contactless engagement. IoT, sensors and wearables along with smartphones are helping healthcare organizations in delivering care to affected patients remotely and at their homes. Wearable sensors are used to monitor the vital signs of affected patients and provide the required care. This is also helping organizations scale up their services as a single doctor is able to monitor multiple patients from a centralized hub. IoT is also used to create touchless environments in hospitals wherein the healthcare staff can administer treatment to patients from a distance with no physical contact.
  2. Mobile Apps: Healthcare apps are being heavily used in pandemic management by healthcare officials and common individuals. It is being used to document symptoms, detect infection and contact trace people. In several countries, contacts of confirmed cases were traced through mobile apps by leveraging Bluetooth, GPS and transaction data. By aggregating location data collected by smartphones, cellular and Wi-Fi network is helping in real-time monitoring of population flows, identifying potential hotspots and guide public-health interventions such as travel restrictions. The mobile apps have also come very handy in driving collaboration among the staff and disseminating information among the public.
  3. Chatbots: Conversational bots are being used by organizations to answer common queries by individuals. And, it has been highly effective to address the challenge of staff shortage in organizations. AI-powered chatbots are being designed and deployed in many internal processes like admission, billing, patient reminders etc. The bots are being used to remind patients, especially aged patients, on taking medicines, tracking their vitals and relaying information to the healthcare staff. In an effort to better inform people about COVID-19, the WHO launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger. The chatbot can be accessed in multiple languages including English, French, Spanish, and Arabic.

The spread of the COVID-19 has highlighted the need for the healthcare industry to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies. A lot of hospitals were already using some of the technologies in their processes and benefitted from it during the crisis. Digital healthcare solutions available today have the potential to transform the face of healthcare and make it accessible and affordable.

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