As the COVID19 pandemic unfolds, governments worldwide are struggling with combating the crisis. At this time, the focus for the Indian government is to flatten the curve before the number of cases overpower the ability of the country’s healthcare infrastructure. Even as the medical community races to build the vaccine, the next best weapon at hand is information.
Using information as the weapon, Niranjan Ramakrishnan, Vice President Digital, Leixir Resources Pvt. Ltd. and former CIO of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital along with Snehal Bindra, pre-med Student, University of California and Los Angeles Research Coordinator, California Vascular Research Foundation has built mobile app to aid the government in its fight against Covid19.
According to Ramakrishnan, the app is an Artificial Intelligence driven platform which provides the ability to crowdsource mobile data collection across any geographical area. Data collected by the citizens is then made available to the government’s authorized COVID Task force (officials and volunteers). He believes the app can provide tremendous value in supporting the government efforts and has decided to donate it to the government free of cost as a contribution should the government be interested.
The app has two versions – one for the government, called MySafeGovt and the other for citizens as a volunteer, called MySafeCitizen. The data gathered by the MySafeCitizen app will feed into the MySafeGovt app to provide the necessary information to help the government authorities take timely action. Ramakrishnan further added that the government can integrate the app with their own database as well.
MySafeCitizen is a cloud-based Artificial Intelligence solution that uses crowdsourced health information obtained directly from citizens through a structured daily questionnaire to effectively support the government in the fight against COVID-19.
Besides doing wellness reporting through COVID19 questionnaire, the app allows citizens to record places visited and individuals met for efficient contact tracing. Besides reporting vitals for themselves, one member of the family can report vitals for the entire household and also volunteer to link up with someone who does not have access to a smartphone and call them on a daily basis to report their vitals. Considering the Indian masses do not have a smartphone and many don’t know how to navigate the app, the community/volunteer model encourages individuals to enrol their drivers, maids, senior citizens who might not have smartphones. Thus, enabling wider contact tracing even among the population segments with no smart phone access.
This information then becomes the basis for the MySafeGovt. Ramakrishnan is aiming to reach around 1 crore volunteers on the app, which will be a credible volume to provide enough information to support MySafeGovt.
MySafeCitizen app also allows volunteers to sign up for government Initiatives and be virtually available for contact tracing, symptoms reporting, home quarantine surveillance or donating food and materials. The citizens can also express their need for emergency situations like ambulance, testing kit (COVID hotline), hospital reporting (non-COVID19 symptoms) and e-consultation (via video-conferencing) through the app.
The data collected from the citizens is made available to the government on a real-time basis through the MySafeGovt app. MySafeGovt is a health information management platform based on the recommended guidelines of the Ministry of Health that aims to help authorities track, analyze, monitor, manage and report the progression of the spread of COVID-19.
The app provides features like contact tracing, active surveillance, home quarantine monitoring, cases prediction, volunteer management and communication.
Positive Case & Ecosystem tracking: As soon as the list of identified positive cases for the day is available, the health worker will use the app to capture the following:
Travel history during the last 21/14 days that includes mode of transport, vehicle details, destination, date & time, co-passengers and en-route details.
- Contact history during the last 21/14 days that includes data & time, location and duration.
- Events history during the last 21/14 days that includes date & time, duration, type of event, number of participants and close-proximity details.
The system then maps the travel and contact tracing dashboard for the war-room to work on.
According to Ramakrishnan, the biggest benefit of the app here will be the removal of latency in the whole process of capturing the information for contact tracing. Currently the health workers note down the information on paper and later the information is entered into the system. By the time the data from different hospitals and sources is made available a lot of time has already been lost.
“The app enables the healthcare workers to capture the contact tracing data directly into the app, which will be immediately available to the government, saving lot of precious time. If the patient remembers something at a later point, the system has provision for making additions, enabling greater accuracy and updated contact tracing. This makes the whole process of contact tracing more efficient, traceable and quicker,” he adds.
Follow-up and Ecosystem Management: Subsequently, the following communication can be possible through the system.
- Send SMS to all the contacts as an alert asking them to do a Virtual Health Screening through App itself.
- Only those whose screening results are showing high and medium risk can be taken up by the Healthcare worker to meet/talk individually.
- If it would create a panic, the system can create all the contacts as users in the app and the health workers can reach out to them individually and capture their details.
- Complete Contact tracing to multi-levels are possible.
Prediction: By increasing people to virtual screening through app based on appeal from the government, one can have the health screening risk reports that combine with the contact tracing details, AI based prediction can help produce all possible – near future potential risk population.
Prediction can take the following aspects:
- Contact tracing lead
- Output of health screening results
- Co-morbidity health condition
- Compliance to Stay at Home
“By automating the current processes, the app can help focus and streamline the government efforts. It enables rapid response time to contact individuals, study progression and spread of disease to plan well in time as well as alert the medical system and public in advance using all the data,” explains Ramakrishnan.
Security and Data Privacy Concerns
Ramakrishnan has put in place all the security controls to ensure data security and privacy. He further informs that the app can be ported to NIC servers as well to meet the government’s mandate. On the privacy front, the app will seek consent before using the person’s data and no identifiers or patient data will be made public. Aadhar card and mobile number identification and OTP number will ensure accuracy.