Battling a pandemic as serious as COVID-19 requires drastic measures as we’ve seen unfolding in recent weeks. Among these measures, there’s been a drive by many business leaders, scientists and the public sector to find ways to help. Let’s look with optimism at some ways technology and innovation are being employed to battle the viral spread.
Data scientists at the University of Pennsylvania developed a model hospitals can use to project how COVID-19 will affect hospital capacity and demand for services. The model makes its predictions by looking at confirmed cases in a region and how many inpatients a hospital has. The intention is to determine what the capacity requirements for hospitalization, intensive care and ventilators might be. The model is now available to all hospitals.
Will Ahmed, CEO of Boston-based fitness tracker maker Whoop, said the company has heard directly from "hundreds" of people using its wearable device to track symptoms of the coronavirus infection. Whoop seeks to improve users' health by tracking their activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep.
On March 12, Whoop added a feature to detect COVID-19 in its app. A week later, Ahmed said in a tweet the company had reports from over 360 users who believed they had the disease based on their symptoms. The app has a Journal feature that allows users to see how different choices impact their sleep performance, recovery, heart rate variability and resting heart rate. It added COVID-19 as one of those stages.
Looking to better track the spread of the novel coronavirus, a team of engineers from Silicon Valley companies joined forces with Boston Children's Hospital's CIO John Brownstein on a tool dubbed covidnearyou.org. The platform aims to gather data from people at home and report it back to public health organizations like the CDC. Over 50,000 users have entered their symptoms and location. When a user goes to the site, they are asked if they are healthy or sick, about their flu shot status and their zip code. Those reporting they feel ill are asked additional questions about symptoms and travel history.
Definitive Healthcare and Esri, a location intelligence company, have partnered to launch an interactive data platform that allows people to analyze and monitor U.S. hospital bed capacity, as well as potential geographic areas of risk, during the COVID-19 outbreak. The U.S. Hospital Bed data resource shows the location and number of licensed beds, staffed beds, ICU beds, and total bed utilization rates in the nation.
Also, the Esri COVID-19 GIS Hub contains other information, including an overlay of U.S. Census data to help stakeholders compare the surrounding U.S. population with the total number of available hospital beds. Definitive and Esri developed the resources to provide user-friendly information to help identify geographic areas of risk, or places with a low capacity to accommodate sick patients.
Definitive's data and intelligence is spatially enabled by Esri's Geospatial Cloud, showing where in the U.S., and at which hospitals, additional beds could be accommodated. Esri's COVID-19 GIS Hub also contains several maps and tools for tracking information about the spread of coronavirus around the world.