If you think of Coronavirus as about something that has suddenly appeared, you are wrong. Coronavirus — a virus that was first identified in 1965 among people with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The virus was left with no diligent attention from researchers until in 2002-2003, China faced an outbreak of SARS, also referred to as “The Purple Death”. When virus cells multiply, they destroy the cells of lung alveoli. That year, 8.273 people were infected, and 775 killed, according to Wikipedia.
Coronavirus outbreak: The current state
Beginning from the end of 2019 until now China, together with multiple countries, is experiencing the new outbreak of coronavirus 2019 n-CoV. Originally detected in Wuhan, the virus causes a dangerous infectious disease COVID-19 that leads to SARS, pneumonia, or death.
As of March 10, 2020, 114.455 cases are confirmed, 4.026 people were killed by the virus, 64.166 have recovered. The numbers are impressive! The world community can’t stop discussing ways to combat the virus. Apart from the potential vaccine development, medical experts are talking about digital health technology. In this article, we will figure out how technology like IoT, wearables, and EHR can help detect viruses, manage the outbreak, and prevent a pandemic.
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Can technology prevent infections?
Much had changed since the latest cases of a dangerous SARS in 2002-2003. Today, mankind holds a high potential to study diseases. With modern software solutions, improved data science algorithms, and smart hospitals, we are better equipped to fight disease.
During the recent conference in Geneva, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that we had never experienced a respiratory virus that was capable of community transmission. He considers that halting the spread of the pandemic is the top priority for all countries. Thus, below we highlight possible ways to slow down and manage the outbreak with the help of technology advancements.
Preventing infectious diseases with technology: Real cases
Let’s review some true cases when technology helps people deal with Coronavirus infection.
AI-powered platform Bluedot
BlueDot is a Canadian AI-fueled platform for monitoring that warned the world about the rapid spread of the virus before that fact was officially recognized by China and WHO. The platform also predicted that after Wuhan, next, the virus would attack Tokyo. And that was correct. BlueDot is an infectious disease surveillance system that can be personalized to what is relevant for its users. Apart from global early warning systems, the company offers a wide range of products aimed to help governments protect their citizens from the viruses and teaches them how to prevent infectious diseases.
How does the platform work? It goes through piles of data including reports, flights, animal disease statistics, and identifies specific trends which are further sent for detailed analysis. BlueDot’s Explorer which you can see in the picture below combines over 100 datasets that are used to identify risks and share this data in the visual form.
The founder of the platform Kamran Khan told The Canadian Press that artificial intelligence has already been used to monitor the Ebola pandemic by tracking movements. Thus, AI gives great power in studying and containing fast-spreading diseases.
Interactive maps for outbreak monitoring
Interactive maps are actively used to track the spread of infections throughout the world. One of John Hopkins University Centers designed and developed a visual dashboard that provides up-to-date information about Coronavirus cases daily.
The platform collects data from multiple data sources, analyzes it, and shares it on the dashboard. The map shows the data related to the world and each of the countries, as well. So, if you click on Italy, for example, you will see that there are 9.172 cases, as of March 10, in total.
Portable virus detection kit
The first test for diagnostics was developed after the outbreak of Coronavirus has been announced. Compared to the test used for detecting the virus in 2002-2003, the new one can cope with this task within several hours. Thanks to technological evolution, new diagnostic tests work faster. Today, one of the Singapore companies is working on a portable test that is aimed to detect three types of coronaviruses including 2019-nCoV.
In the times when hospitals are overcrowded, such tests will help doctors deliver medical care faster and more effectively.
Alibaba’s AI-fueled infectious disease surveillance system
Recently, Alibaba impressed the world with its new development. The system is designed to detect coronavirus with 96% accuracy. It is built according to machine learning algorithms, which means that it was trained on 5.000 real case images and data related to coronavirus. The system has already been introduced and tested in Chinese hospitals. Health practitioners are planning to adopt Alibaba’s system in over 100 hospitals in China.
How IoT, wearables, and EHR can stop the outbreak
As you can see, every modern solution designed to deal with diseases exploits the capabilities of artificial intelligence. According to Frost & Sullivan, China is expected to spend around $255 bn. for IoT by 2025. How could these investments help manage the spread of diseases? The answer is simple. Public healthcare organizations and enterprises might create a huge network of sensing devices to detect infections. However, such measures will require accurate planning and realization on a global scale, which, if implemented, could become one of the greatest achievements of humankind.
How to detect an epidemic using IoT
IoT allows for the early detection infectious disease. While the global sensing network is so far only plans, China has the ability to create the network inside the country. The Internet of Things technology, when combined with location identification and face recognition, could provide great opportunities to detect and monitor people who were in contact with sick people. Ultimately, when coupled with AI, IoT can become an efficient way to stop viruses from spreading so rapidly all over the world. So, how can epidemics be prevented? Below are the most significant benefits of using IoT and wearables for healthcare:
- Predicting seasonal infections and outbreaks
- Saving time with early disease detection
- Improving medical care for citizens
- Getting control of water contamination
- Remote monitoring of patients
So, as you can see, IoT is a good technology to advance infectious disease forecasting for outbreak management. What other solutions can be used to prevent the spread of coronavirus?
How wearables help track health
According to the study, data delivered from wearables can show any small changes in the typical user’s behavior. For example, if there is a lack of activity, it could mean that the person has changed his or her fitness routine. Such indicators as an increased heart rate or temperature can also extend the picture and help in identifying the activity of flu.
Coronavirus: How to prevent outbreak using EHR
Electronic health records (EHR) as a part of the electronic information management strategy designed to enable better health care. Many countries have already started to implement such systems to build common infrastructures for EHR. However, there are different approaches that range from centralized databases to highly distributed datasets. Nevertheless, traditionally, EHR systems consist of the following components:
- Registry services to manage registries from healthcare providers and patients. These also contain terminology and clinical information.
- Domain repositories to gather and keep information that refers to various domains like drugs, laboratory data, diagnostic imaging.
- Shared health records to share the patient’s health history.
- Health data warehouse to collect and store information for public health surveillance.
- Access layers for privacy.
So, how do you think, which component of the EHR is designed to track and report outbreak? Data warehouse, of course, as it gathers information for public health surveillance. However, there are also some ancillary services that may include specific capabilities for communicable disease reporting and outbreak management. To ensure the highest benefits, these capabilities must be combined with national healthcare systems. Thus, high interoperability is needed. Our team has expertise in application integration as well as in developing comprehensive solutions for healthcare.
DICEUS solutions for healthcare
DICEUS is a trusted software partner with ten years of experience and expertise in custom IT solutions for healthcare. Recently, we accomplished three big projects related to this domain: IoT-fueled sensing platform to manage clinical trial data, the national system for reporting medical errors, and one more national system for applying to medical research funding.
Today, we are very worried about the situation around the coronavirus outbreak. Our team is ready to contribute to the mutual efforts of many nations to stop this epidemic. We know that our knowledge and expertise can come in handy if you need to develop or integrate specific outbreak prevention tools. So, let’s get in touch to discuss the collaboration.
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