With much of the global population told to restrict their movements over recent months, too many people have been cancelling their regular medical appointments and avoiding COVID-19 tests. While there is only so much you can over an internet connection, a number of new tools have been developed to help fill the void. Patients can now log onto medical services via a mobile app, allowing them to self-report symptoms in the case of potential COVID-19 exposure and many other illnesses.
Exciting tech startups and existing vendors have been developing an array of medical applications and web services to help manage the virus. These apps can check for symptoms, track cases, and offer advice on ways to prevent exposure. Depending on the service in question, self-service apps can be used to ask questions and analyse answers in combination with objective data from fitness trackers, pulse oximeters, blood pressure machines, scales, and other technologies found in normal home environments.
Dr Lim, a GP based in Western Sydney, uses video monitoring and other high-tech setups to monitor and manage COVID-19 patients: "We do use a lot of remote monitoring tools, including patient self-monitoring tools... That sets in train the process. But the nurses would continue to monitor the questionnaires and escalate to doctors should there be any deterioration... We actually had access to quite a lot of information, which made the remote monitoring process a lot easier... We strongly believe this is the direction, not only that it can, but that we should go in, because it's very accessible technology."
As the number of infections caused by the pandemic continues to rise worldwide, the healthcare industry is looking for smart new ways to diagnose and manage cases. Easy access to apps and technology products has led to a plethora of new medical services, most of which can be used for COVID-19 and also during standard medical care. While not all remote medical services are available in Australia and New Zealand, the following apps represent the future of self-reporting for millions of people across the globe.
DocClocker is a popular app that enables patients to receive real-time reporting from their medical providers. TempTraq is a single-use temperature monitor that continuously monitors, records, and wirelessly transmits real-time data for up to 72 hours. Patient Access is a video monitoring app and clinical system used by 4,000 medical practices in the UK. The COVID-19 Risk Index is a predictive tool for COVID-19 exposure within populations and communities. Orion Health offers a tool to facilitate communication between quarantined people and the healthcare service. While visiting your GP is more important than ever, these apps are a powerful way to augment and compliment existing healthcare services.