Ashvini Danigond, ED & CEO, Manorama Infosolutions Pvt Ltd (MIPL) reviews the uses of technologies like communicable disease management solutions and war-room modules especially during the COVID-19 vaccine roll out
The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has presented one of the greatest global challenges while shifting the focus on acceleration of healthtech and contact-less healthcare. In fact, the spread of novel coronavirus has been instrumental in pushing the adoption of healthtech in public health by several years–and many of these changes are going to be long-lasting.
Communicable disease management solutions with vaccine management capability
Healthtech are being harnessed to support data convergence across multi-mode interventions related to COVID-19 management, including population surveillance, case identification, contact tracing and evaluation of interventions on the basis of mobility data and communication with the public. These rapid responses leverage billions of mobile phones, large online datasets, connected devices, computing resources and advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP).
For instance, Communicable Disease Management Suite remains an exclusive solution to solve the challenges faced by the healthcare providers, administrators, and government in any pandemic situation. This solution populates and represents the real-time data such as patient statistics, bed availability, disease control statistics and clinical statistics.
The vaccine rollout has introduced unique logistical challenges, especially for major suppliers as they need to manage inventory across multiple, diverse locations. For example, one of the biggest challenges pertains to visibility to, and reporting of, vaccine data as hospitals and healthcare institutions need to comply with non-standardised processes that are still evolving.
Further, the challenge is aggravated by the fact that each vaccine brand requires different storage requirements with regard to temperature and beyond-use date (BUD) for each temperature type, whether frozen, refrigerated, and room temperature.
In this regard, vaccine management and roll out can be undertaken with integration of smart predictive technologies such as AI and ML. This can help suppliers to plan the stock of vaccines from a supply chain management perspective in general.
Moreover, integrating this information with patient’s healthcare records like electronic medical records (EMRs) or immunisation schedules, for example, this technology will help in supply chain planning with efficiency. This system will provide real-time visibility of populations which are vaccinated or need to be vaccinated.
Remote patient monitoring and telemedicine
Remote monitoring and telemedicine remain instrumental in containing the spread of disease in overcrowded waiting rooms and facilities. By creating new virtual avenues for care, healthcare institutions can plan to have less patients physically present in their facilities, reducing chances of spreading the virus. It also helps hospitals operate more efficiently without surpassing capacity limits.
This also helps in keeping elective procedures and other less essential healthcare services operating. In order to keep all healthcare staff members working and taking care of patients as per the surge in their numbers, remote patient monitoring solutions can provide a leg-up to streamline operations for departments facing different challenges related to staffing, and scheduling appointments, among others.
There is scope for improving integration between new solutions and existing clinical workflows. It would result in the possibility of platforms exchanging information seamlessly with easy access to information by patients and healthcare providers alike.
In an effort to draw maximum benefits of remote patient monitoring, it’s essential that data collaborative features are available, which remain up to date. In addition, it’s important to ensure that any new platforms coincide with current standards. While remote patient monitoring could have a larger impact in the battle against COVID-19, long-standing issues like a lack of interoperable systems and workflow challenges need to be suitably addressed.
This core technology enables healthcare providers to reach out to patients who are recovering at home, while still under the care and surveillance of their medical team.
It is possible for healthcare institutions to stream real-time video feeds of inpatient rooms to nursing stations, so nurses can monitor and communicate with patients, reducing the amount of physical contact and lowering transmission risk. Considering the present scenario of the rise in COVID-19 cases, there is a need to develop scalable solutions to improve patient care and to integrate with clinical workflows, and in many cases, remote patient monitoring solutions leave much to be desired.
War-room for COVID-19 Task Force
A centralised war-room helps to streamline capacity and efficiency management to mount the fight against COVID-19 while providing data visualisation of key performance metrics such as availability of beds, drugs and consumables, supply of medical oxygen and infection spread related statistics in a particular district. It remains a single point of all data, IT and coordination for a district-level overview. It features dashboards and monitors, which help healthcare administrators to review the performance of districts at the central level.
Today, the war-room modules bring together data in the war-room on large dashboards. This data is coming from sources and nodes of information like the municipal bodies, district administration offices and the Health Department, showing interdependence.
The war-room is also instrumental in planning and implementation of various strategies to spread awareness among the citizens for the COVID-19 precautionary measures.
Artificial Intelligence and healthcare
While the relevance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) had grown significantly over the years, it was during the spread of COVID-19 when time was of the essence, AI helped public health officials predict infection rates as well as intensive care unit (ICU) demand and capacity.
In the healthcare domain, Machine Learning (ML) helps identify the progression of the COVID-19 virus in a patient by scanning the X-ray images.
Also, AI contributes towards helping machines speak as well. For instance, chatbots form an integral part of regular customer communication and engagement, especially with COVID-19 pushing the need for introducing social-distancing norms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for pushing the envelope as far as adoption of healthtech in healthcare is concerned while increasing the urgency in providing quality and timely care. At the moment, the innovation in technology remains work in progress. However, continuous improvements made to virtual solutions will ultimately pay off in the long term.