Role of Technology in Tracing and Treating COVID-19 Patients

Technology Helps Doctors, Health Industry Track Patients, Treatments

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COVID-19 technology
As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm doctors and hospitals throughout the country, medical technology firms and health centers are trying to gain “situational awareness”. Pixabay

By Michelle Quinn

As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to overwhelm doctors and hospitals throughout the country, medical technology firms and health centers are trying to gain “situational awareness” — giving doctors what they need to know about the sick patients filling emergency rooms.

For doctors and staff, “it’s really hard to know what sorts of patients are coming,” said Warren Ratliff, the chief executive of MDmetrix, a software firm that provides analysis of health care inside hospitals.

The staff “can see they’re backing up,” he said. But they have few tools to compare patients showing up today with those admitted yesterday, or to show what treatments might be working on certain groups of patients, he added.

A frustrated doctor

MDmetrix was created by a doctor frustrated that he couldn’t analyze data across patients. With electronic medical records, which have been in use in the U.S. for years, mostly for tracking and billing, physicians typically view one patient’s record at a time.

Enter medical technology firms like MDmetrix, which offer information dashboards and apps so that doctors and hospitals can look for trends and insights across patient outcomes. The technology pulls data from patients’ electronic medical records.

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As they deal with the patients in front of them, hospitals and doctors are struggling to answer what may seem like simple questions, Ratliff said. How many ventilators are being used? Is low oxygen an indicator of COVID-19? Has anyone followed up on patients who were tested and sent home?

COVID-19 technology
Enter medical technology firms like MDmetrix, which offer information dashboards and apps so that doctors and hospitals can look for trends and insights across patient outcomes. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The demand for information extends to whether there are different treatments for different groups, he said.

Different patients, different treatments

“Is there a difference in the treatment between smokers or nonsmokers?” Ratliff said. “In a couple of years, an after-action report will come out. But that’s way too late if you’re fighting a battle right now.”

With the push of a button, clinicians and hospital administrators get MDmetrix’s COVID-19 dashboard of charts and graphs that they can view to improve patient care. The information is a real-time snapshot of “whether treatment protocol A is working better than protocol B for any subset of patients,” Ratliff said.

As for privacy concerns, data pulled from patient records is stripped of its identity and aggregated, complying with health care privacy laws, Ratliff said.

MDmetrix is being used at the University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center, both in Seattle. The company is providing its “COVID-19 Mission Control” software for free to hospitals and medical centers.

Leveraging the electronic health record

A recent paper in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association outlined efforts at the University of California San Diego Health to quickly build new dashboards based on electronic health records to manage the growing crisis.  The authors conclusion: Electronic health records “should be leveraged to their full potential.”

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Over the past several years, there’s been an explosion of technology tools to analyze and aggregate data drawn from electronic health records, said Julia Adler-Milstein, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco. But the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing hospitals and companies to find ways – sometimes in just days – to analyze data and get critical information to decision-makers.

“This has been a pressure test,” she said. “How can we get cuts of our data for the new disease?”

Figuring out trends inside a hospital is also the work of TransformativeMed, an electronic record-keeping application that tracks a patient as he or she moves through the hospital. It is being used at the University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center; MedStar Health in the Washington, D.C., area; and VCU Health Center in Richmond, Virginia.

COVID-19 technology
With the push of a button, clinicians and hospital administrators get MDmetrix’s COVID-19 dashboard of charts and graphs that they can view to improve patient care. VOA

Tracking a patient — from symptoms, lab results and treatments — can help a hospital understand how a disease is progressing through a community, how effective treatments are and what isn’t working, said Dr. Rodrigo Martinez, chief clinical officer at TransformativeMed and an ear, nose and throat doctor.

A generational opportunity

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The battle against COVID-19 could be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to greatly improve the health care system, he said. The social distancing requirements will boost telehealth, with patients and their health care providers likely to appreciate how much can be accomplished through video chat, he said. 3-D printing, which is being used to repair and create ventilators, will help the medical supply chain. And home lab tests will also likely grow.

Also Read- Life in Wuhan After Coronavirus Outbreak

Add to the list companies such as TransformativeMed and MDmetrix, which are finding trends in patients’ electronic health records.

“It’s not that we are creating new technologies,” Martinez said. “We’ve had technologies waiting in the wings, waiting for the opportunity to be applied.” (VOA)

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Travel Industry Expected To Make a Comeback After Autumn-Winter

Recovery for the travel industry would most likely take three to six more months, suggest experts

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Travel India
The hospitality and aviation sectors are arguably amongst the most impacted segments due to COVID-19. Pixabay

BY SIDDHI JAIN

With global travel strictly on hold and most wish-list destinations reeling under severe Coronavirus impact, tourism is one of the most most-affected industries. As international air travel remains suspended, inbound tourism (foreigners travelling into india) will be at a standstill in the coming few months.

According to a global luxury businesses panel hosted by S.P. Jain Global, the hospitality and aviation sectors are arguably amongst the most impacted segments due to COVID-19, with the Indian hospitality industry suffering losses to the tune of $4.5 billion. However, the industry is anticipating making a comeback by Q4, with certain sub-segments ruling over the others. In the meanwhile what happens to the travel trade? Well, all eyes seem to have turned to the domestic business and leisure market to make up the losses.

While inbound and outbound tourism is expected to be slow, owing to the restrictions placed by countries on international travellers, domestic corporate travel may also take a hit depending on the state of businesses in the country. However, domestic leisure travel is said to rebound swiftly, and will be a major factor in helping the industry recover post the pandemic.

“Initially, people stuck in different parts of the world will travel back to India. Overall, inbound tourism might witness a slow growth. Though India has always been a favourite and affordable spot for international tourists as well as for locals, we can expect a normality by 2021,” Debashish Maitra, director of IJ Dream Vacation told IANSlife. “In simple terms, the first roadblock to an international tours would be taking a flight, which many would like to avoid unless necessary,” says Krupa Gupta Saraogi of bookittours.

According to Ramesh Ramanathan, Chairman and Managing Director of Sterling Holiday Resorts, with international travel expected to slow down at least for this year, it will only add demand in favour of domestic travel, at least for the foreseeable future. “We are most likely to witness revenge spending once the lockdown is lifted, however, there would be a new set of considerations which will come in to play while shortlisting destinations — like safety, hygiene, social distancing, and proximity. Also, India has a plethora of splendid locations like the hill stations, beaches, forests, cultural sites, and other iconic attractions, and Indian travellers are most likely to plan stress-free pocket-friendly domestic vacation with their close ones,” he shares over email.

Travel
Indian travellers are most likely to plan stress-free pocket-friendly domestic vacation with their close ones. Pixabay

Ramanathan added that many are booking from July onwards, as a way to holiday out the COVID-19 stress, but a recovery would likely take three to six more months. Travel curator Ricky Nakhat does not anticipate a recovery before winter months. Post that, he says that more foreigners might likely tour India as the spread elsewhere is quite high.

How can we promote India as a safe travel space?

According to stakeholders, self-driving to destinations would see a considerable spike due to safety issues. Hotels, resorts, cab operators, airports and local city sights must ensure sanitisation and assure visitors of it, if they want to attract tourists. Medical tests of hospitality staff must be done regularly, apart from following basic norms of social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. Travel insurance would also be aggressively promoted.

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Visitors, especially the elderly and those with co-morbidities, can be encouraged to look at stays in zones declared Coronavirus-free or where a lower number of infections were reported. Also people are likely to prefer travelling in small groups. Promoting touchless technology might also help. (IANS)

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Vaccine For The Deadly Covid-19 Could be Ready by October, Says Pfizer CEO

Pfizer believes that a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 could be ready by the end of October

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COVID vaccine
Covid-19 vaccine maybe ready by October, Pfizer claims. Pixabay

Global pharmaceutical major Pfizer believes that a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 could be ready by the end of October, the company’s CEO Albert Bourla said. Pfizer is conducting clinical trials in the US and Europe for the BNT162 vaccine programme to prevent Covid-19 in collaboration with German mRNA company BioNTech. Bourla made the comments while participating at a virtual event organised by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) this week.

“If things go well and the stars are aligned, we will have enough evidence of safety and efficacy for us to feel comfortable, for the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) to feel comfortable, and for the EMA (European Medicines Agency) to feel comfortable, to have a vaccine around the end of October,” Bourla was quoted as saying at the event by FierceBiotech. Speakers at the event also included AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, GlaxoSmithKline chief Emma Walmsley, Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels.

Each of these companies are working with their partners to develop a vaccine to prevent the disease. While GSK has joined forces with Sanofi, AstraZeneca is backing the vaccine being developed at the University of Oxford.

J&J is collaborating with the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to develop its vaccine. So far over 120 vaccines have been proposed across the world. Currently, there are at least 10 candidate vaccines in clinical evaluation and 115 candidate vaccines in pre-clinical evaluation.

vaccine
Pfizer is conducting clinical trials in the US and Europe for the BNT162 vaccine programme to prevent Covid-19. Wikimedia Commons

According to the WHO, it is important to evaluate as many vaccines as possible as we cannot predict how many will turn out to be viable. To increase the chances of success, it is critical to test all candidate vaccines until they fail, the WHO said. Pfizer and BioNTech’s development programme includes four vaccine candidates, each representing a different combination of mRNA format and target antigen. The novel design of the trial allows for the evaluation of the various mRNA candidates simultaneously in order to identify the safest and potentially most efficacious candidate in a greater number of volunteers, in a manner that will facilitate the sharing of data with regulatory authorities in real time.

“With our unique and robust clinical study program underway, starting in Europe and now the U.S., we look forward to advancing quickly and collaboratively with our partners at BioNTech and regulatory authorities to bring a safe and efficacious vaccine to the patients who need it most,” Bourla said in a statement earlier this month. “The short, less than four-month timeframe in which we’ve been able to move from pre-clinical studies to human testing is extraordinary and further demonstrates our commitment to dedicating our best-in-class resources, from the lab to manufacturing and beyond, in the battle against COVID-19,” he added.

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In anticipation of a successful clinical development programme, Pfizer and BioNTech are working to scale up production for global supply. The breadth of this programme should allow production of millions of vaccine doses in 2020, increasing to hundreds of millions in 2021, Pfizer said. (IANS)

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Read PM Modi’s Letter To Indians amid COVID war

PM Modi addresses the nation in the times of COVID via a letter

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PM Modi
No crisis can determine India's future, says PM Modi. Pixabay

BY PM NARENDRA MODI                                                                                           

Dear friends,

A year ago, a golden chapter was added to the history of Indian democracy. After decades, the people of the country gave a second opportunity to a government elected with a full majority. You have played a major role in writing this chapter. Today presents an opportunity for me to bow to you and honor you for your commitment to India and Indian democracy.

Had the situation been normal, I would have been blessed to be in your midst. However, the circumstances brought about by the global coronavirus pandemic have led me to write this letter and seek your blessings. In the past one year, your affection, blessings and active participation have given me fresh energy and inspiration. During this period, you have shown to the world democracy’s collective strength, which has become an example before the entire world.

In the year 2014, the people voted for a big change; you voted to change the policy and system (niti & reeti). In those five years, the country saw extricating itself from the quagmire of inertia and corruption. In those five years, the country inspired by Antyodaya has seen the change in governance in easing the lives of the poor.

In that tenure, on the one hand, the country’s prestige before the world grew, and on the other, we raised the dignity of the poor by opening their bank accounts, making available free cooking gas and electricity connection for them; and by building homes and toilets for them. In that tenure, whereas there were surgical and air strikes, there were also works for one-rank-one-pension, one-nation-one-tax GST and fulfillment of decades’ old demands involving procurement of crops under MSP for farmers. That tenure was dedicated to meeting several needs of the country.

In 2019, your blessings meant dreaming big for the country, for high hopes and for meeting the aspirations. The decisions taken in the last one year are the reflections of those big dreams. The people’s power fuelled by the common man is effulgently shining as the nation’s strength. In the past one year, the country had many dreams, many resolves as it also continuously took several steps towards realizing those goals.

In this historic journey, each community, each section and each individual has played one’s part responsibly. ‘Sabka sath, sabka vikas’ with this mantra, the country is forging ahead in all directions — social, economic, global or internal.

In the last one year, some important decisions have been in discussion, and that is why it is natural to for these achievements to linger on in our memory. Whether it was the topic of Article 370 for national unity and integrity, or the happy outcome of age-old conflict over the Ram temple construction, or the factor disrupting the modern social system, the ‘triple talaq’ or the symbol of India’s compassion, the citizenship law – all these achievements you remember.

India
Sabka sath, sabka vikas’ with this mantra, the country is forging ahead in all directions — social, economic, global or internal, says PM Modi. Pixabay

Amid these decisions which came in quick succession, there are many other decisions and changes that have given new momentum to India’s development journey, have given us new objectives as we have strived to fulfill many expectations of the people. The constitution of the post of Chief of Defence Staff has led to increased coordination among armed forces. At the same time, India has accelerated its preparations for Mission Gaganyaan. In this period, our priority has been to empower the poor, farmers, women and the youth.

Today, each farmer has been covered under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. In the last one year, under this scheme, over Rs 72,000 crore have been deposited in the bank accounts of more 9.5 crore farmers. To make available piped drinking water for the country’s over 15 crore rural population, the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ has been initiated. To ensure better health care for our more than 50 crore cattle, a massive campaign for livestock vaccination is under way. For the first time in the nation’s history, the government has decided to offer the facility of Rs 3,000 monthly pension for farmers, farm labourers, small shopkeepers and workers belonging to the unorganized sector after the age of 60 years.

A separate department has been formed to strengthen ‘blue economy’ and increase the facilities for fishermen. Similarly, it has been decided to constitute National Traders Board to timely resolve issues concerning business enterprises. About 7 crore sisters associated with self-help groups have been given more financial assistance. Recently, the loan amount available without guarantee for self-help groups has been doubled to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 10 lakh. Keeping the education of tribals’ children in mind, a campaign is under way to build more than 450 Eklavya Model Residential Schools.

The government has also worked expeditiously towards making better laws linked with common man’s welfare. Our Parliament has broken decades’ old record in conducting legislative business. That’s why several laws – the Consumer Protection Act, amendment to Chit fund law, and laws concerning more security for women and children – have been quickly enacted.

The government policies have led to bridging the gulf between the urban and rural lives. For the first time, the internet users in rural areas have outnumbered the urban counterparts by 10 per cent. The list of historic works and decisions is very long. It is not possible to elaborate on all of them in this letter. But I would surely say that in the last one year, each day round the clock, the government has worked with full awareness, sensitivity, and has taken decisions.

Just when we were moving quickly towards realizing our country’s aspirations, the corona pandemic surrounded India too. On the one hand, there are countries with massive economies and most modern health services, and on the other, there is India with its huge population and so many challenges. Many people had expressed their apprehensions that when corona would attack India, the country itself would become a trouble for the world. Today, all countrymen have changed the way they look at India. You have proved that your collective capability and capacity are unprecedented in comparison with other more resourceful and prosperous countries.

India
. The recent economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore is a big step towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign, says PM Modi in his letter to the nation. Pixabay

You have shown that India alone holds the guarantee for a greater and better India – whether it was collective clapping or thali-beating or lighting the lamps, whether it was honouring of corona warriors by the armed forces, or following the Janata curfew or following the lockdown rules with sincerity.

In this crisis, no one can claim that nobody has been put to trouble or inconvenience. Our workers, migrant brother and sister labourers, those working in small industries, cart pushers and vendors, our shopkeeper brothers and sisters and those having small businesses have suffered immensely. We all are working together in an attempt to sort out their problems.

But we have to be careful that these inconveniences should not transform into a crisis of life. For that, each Indian has to follow all directives. We have to move forward with the same patience and courage that we shown so far. This is the reason why the situation in India has so far been manageable in comparison with other countries.

This battle will stretch on, but we are on way to victory and, to be victorious is our common resolve. We can draw inspiration from those people who recently faced the Cyclone Amphan boldly. They worked hard to reduce the damage caused by the cyclone.

under the given circumstances, there have been discussions as to how economies of India along with other nations will emerge out of the crisis. At the same time, there is this belief that the way India has surprised the world in facing coronavirus with its unity, the country can present the same example in the economic field — 130 crore Indians can not only surprise the world but can also inspire it.

Today, the time demands that we must stand on our feet, and we will have to move on our own strength. And for this, there is only one path: a self-reliant India (atmanirbhar Bharat). The recent economic package of Rs 20 lakh crore is a big step towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign. This campaign will usher in a new trend of opportunities for every countryman – our farmers, workers and labourers, medium enterprises and the youth associated with startups. India will reduce its dependence on imports with the sweat of its citizens, with their hard work and skills, thus becoming self-dependent.

you have continued to bless me with your affection in the past six years. The country has moved ahead with unprecedented pace with historic decisions and development. But I know there is so much left to be done. The country has many challenges and problems before it. I am making all efforts day and night. I may have some deficiency, but the country does not have any. That is why I place more confidence in you, in your strength and in your capacity. You, your support and your blessings are the energy behind my resolve.

The global pandemic has brought about a crisis situation, but at the same time, for us Indians, this is also the time for determination. We have to remember that no calamity, no crisis can determine the present or future of 130 crore Indians. We will decide our present and, the future too. We will move ahead, we will race ahead to progress and we will be victorious. It is said in our country: “Kritam me dakshine haste, jayo me savya ahita-h” – meaning, in one hand we carry our deeds and duties and in the other, sure success.

Also Read: COVID Warriors Organize Blood Donation Camp, Fight Pandemic with Sweat and Blood

I bow before you yet again with a wish for our country’s success forever. Best wishes for you and your family. Be healthy, be safe. Be aware and be conscious.

Your Pradhan Sevak

(IANS)