Lives have been changed because of the virus outbreak, and people have no choice but to adapt to the drastic changes. One blessing that we have nowadays is our access to limitless technology that allows us to perform our everyday duties and effectively combat COVID-19. Front liners, the public, and the world now count on technology to help us come out strong despite the adversity.
Not long after the World Health Organization declared that we are amid the pandemic, countries across the globe have implemented a general lockdown in the hopes of stopping the virus from entering their territories. Residents have been advised to stay inside their homes and limit social activities as much as possible. During this time, the world heavily relied on telecommunications companies, social media platforms, and other communications applications to connect people.
Both small-scale and large companies and international organizations used digital communication and video conferencing apps to continue their operations. Though not everyone has access to the internet, a huge majority of the population can still connect with the use of chat, video calls, voice over the internet calls with the help of applications such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and Facebook Messenger.
Though the most effective way to contact trace is still with the help of healthcare workers, technology also plays a significant role in detecting the number of infected people and its magnitude. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, technology can be used as a guiding tool in contact tracing workflow and case investigations.
In addition to the traditional contact tracing tools, we are now using GPS and Bluetooth technologies to estimate the duration and proximity of a person’s exposure to patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Technology also helps in:
- Provide support on management and workflow of communication when doing a follow-up to patients
- Notify patients of scheduled calls and consultation from healthcare workers
- Generate, store and cascade patient information to multiple hospitals and clinics when needed
- Send daily SMS or email to patients for the schedule of their monitoring
- Alert healthcare systems when there are referrals and if there’s a need for support services
Some smartphones are equipped with sensing capabilities that can enable mobile-crowd sensing for analyzing and sharing data and extracting information. Several upcoming applications allow you to self-report if you are experiencing any symptoms, coordinate with the nearest health care facility and track essential volunteers and personnel that can assist you. These sensors are also being used to conduct contact tracing on a massive scale in a particularly affected area.
A mobile application named “DocDot” is now undergoing clinical trials in isolation facilities in countries like the United States, Japan, India, and Canada. This app developed by an Italian company named SDG Group allows healthcare workers to monitor a patient’s vital signs remotely.
Docdot works by using signal processing technology that allows the camera of a smartphone to record light reflected by the blood vessels under the skin. The application is capable of converting measurements of respiration and blood pressure. They claim it to have an accuracy rate of 90% and functionality same as with hospital-grade monitors. Docdot can be used hand in hand with long-range thermal scanners to limit physical interaction between patients and healthcare workers.
In addition to that, many outdoor isolation facilities and evacuation centers are now using high-quality modular tents. These latest tents are lightweight, easy to install and dismantle compared to regular outdoor shelters. They are also easy to transport to other locations if needed.
Business and Employment
The global economy also took a heavy beating. Businesses closed, and many people ended up being unemployed. Those that managed to stay afloat despite the pandemic heavily relied on the use of the internet to urgently transition from physical offices to digitally based operations.
Many companies are also gearing towards digital marketing to promote their products and reach a larger client pool since most people are spending more time surfing the internet. Businesses that offer necessities such as food and medicine are also relying on mobile applications and logistics services to ensure that their products get delivered to their customers on lockdown.
The use of technology has never been more vital now that we are in the middle of fighting a global health crisis. These innovations are not just helping us to stay safe and connected. They also play an important role in the economy and healthcare sector. With proper use and further research, we would be able to beat the pandemic effectively.