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How is technology helping to combat coronavirus pandemic?

5 minutes, 31 seconds read

The deadly outbreak of the pandemic, coronavirus has claimed more than 110,000 lives and infected over 18,30,000 people worldwide. While the government chalks out COVID-19 risk mitigation plans, including social distancing, healthcare advisories, remote working and quarantine the infected; many organizations are taking technology initiatives to provide visualization and real-time situational awareness along with ways to run the lives of daily wagers.

To curb the spread of infection the entire nation has been subjected to rigorous lockdown. Unaccounted migration of daily wagers has made ghost settlements a recurring feature. Business tycoons say it is a daunting task to keep thousands of engineers safe while ensuring business continuity. This situation may affect the global economy because of supply chain, production, oil prices, currency and interest rate fluctuations. According to estimates, the economic cost of the pandemic would be over $4 trillion.

As the world gears up to combat this crisis of unforeseen magnitude, researchers, businesses, and innovators around the world are putting technology to work to mitigate the effects of the global health crisis. From using big data to understand the virus’ genetic tree, to keeping hospitals afloat with telemedicine; countries are trying every tip and trick in the book to contain the disease and provide a pattern amidst pandemonium.

Here is a list of technology-driven initiatives taken worldwide to combat the corona pandemic.

Aarogya Setu App

The Aarogya Setu application is the Government of India initiative to bring essential health services available to people. The most commonly used technology by the government is tracking people’s whereabouts through the location information on their cell phones; which in this crucial time has proven to be a means to restrain the spread of coronavirus. Using this technology this application alerts you when COVID-19 infected people are around. It also gives a detailed view of where the patient was before quarantine and who were in close proximity with them.

Aarogya Setu App

The app aims at amplifying the services of the Department of Health, in proactively reaching out to and informing the users of the app regarding risks, best practices and relevant health advisories related to the confinement of COVID-19 virus.

COVID Symptom Tracker & Corona 100m

C-19 COVID Symptom Tracker, an application developed by a UK startup, helps people self report their symptoms of coronavirus. It also helps to identify high-risk areas. It uses data science and machine learning models to study the data provided by the masses and identify those at risk sooner. 

C-19 COVID Symptom Tracker

The corona 100m, application by South Korea maps the whereabout of a corona positive patient and alerts the user when the infected person is within the reach of 100m.

China is using AI-powered thermal cameras on drones to enable contactless and rapid temperature detection in a crowd. This helps to identify those who have a fever. They have also deployed facial recognition systems to screen out people not wearing masks in public.

WHO Health Alert 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a dedicated messaging service, the WHO Health Alert chatbot to provide information about coronavirus, answers to frequently asked questions about the disease, the current infection rates and preventive measures to be taken against it. 

The service is available in 7 different languages such as English, French, Hindi, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. People can activate conversation related to COVID-19 facts by simply typing a ‘hi’ to +41 79 893 18 92 on WhatsApp.

Video Calling Apps to keep Business as Usual.

With this pandemic taking a toll on the day to day business, companies are trying hard to keep employees safe with options like remote working and using tech tools to collaborate. As the world continues to fight the pandemic, flatten the curve and try to maintain normalcy by working from home. To deal with this containment and yet keeping it business as usual, video calling applications have become the most essential tools.

Read to know more about how Enterprises investing in Workplace Mobility Can Survive Pandemics.

The popular video calling applications like Skype, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Duo, Webex and Zoom, received approximately 600,000 downloads in one day. There has been a 70% increase in activity in Facebook Messenger’s video call functionality since the beginning of the outbreak.

Relief Fund for Daily Wagers

Due to this lockdown, as the economic activities of the country grind to a halt; millions of underdeveloped regions face penury and deprivation. With the lockdown suspending all kinds of work, daily wage workers are the ones to suffer the most. However to provide some relief to this horrifying situation, tech companies like Swiggy, Zomato and Ola have reached out to help.

Ola’s Drive the Driver’s Fund is to offer relief to the driver community. It provides financial assistance for essential supplies and emergency support.

Ola Cabs Drive the Driver’s Fund

Whereas Swiggy and Zomato are taking donations on their app and feeding India without involving a middle man. The financial help directly reaches the labours.

MyGov Corona Helpdesk

To mitigate the spread of fake news and offer immediate information related to coronavirus, the government of India has launched an official helpdesk, called MyGov Corona Helpdesk. One can initiate the conversation by simply texting a ‘hi’ to 9013151515 on Whatsapp.

Government of India initiative to create awareness and support individuals against coronavirus crisis

The government has also taken to other social media platforms such as Youtube, Facebook messenger, Linked In, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook Page and Telegram App to spread awareness and prevent the spreading of coronavirus.

Corporate technology-driven initiatives

Coronavirus Helpline India

ACKO, an Indian general insurance firm has created a portal – Coronavirus Helpline India to connect the government and common mass. It has listed all state wise essential helpline numbers, FAQs and important news related to coronavirus outbreak in India.

Lockdown Helping Hands

MantraLabs has taken the initiative to create a platform for people all over India to share their problems. The platform Lockdown Helping Hands is an effort to give voice to those who need help at this crucial hour of need. Others can directly share their, or other person’s problem on the portal. Using the share option, one can post the issue on various social sites to amplify the voices to reach the ears of the respective authority. The platform also provides state-wise helpful links, essential contact numbers and list of shops that are providing home delivery.

Lockdown Helping Hands - a technology-driven initiative to spread the word of those in need during nationwide lockdown

Due to the lockdown, there are several people far away from their loved ones, and struggling for help and information. There are many groups of people volunteering and ready to assist senior citizens, new mothers, physically challenged and people with medical conditions get access to basic daily essentials & medicines. Let us also do our bit and help lend a hand of help at this hour of need.

#StayHome #StaySafe

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Enhancing digital patient experience with healthcare chatbots

5 minutes read

Chatbots are fast emerging at the forefront of user engagement across industries. In 2021, healthcare is undoubtedly being touted as one of the most important industries due to the noticeable surge in demand amid the pandemic and its subsequent waves. The Global Healthcare Chatbots Market is expected to exceed over US$ 314.63 Million by 2024 at a CAGR of 20.58%.

Chatbots are being seen as those with high potential to revolutionize healthcare. They act as the perfect support system to agents on the floor by providing the first-step resolution to the customer, in terms of understanding intent and need, boost efficiency, and also improve the accuracy of symptom detection and ailment identification, preventive care, feedback procedures, claim filing and processing and more.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital tools in healthcare, most commonly chatbots, rose to the forefront of healthcare solutions. Providence St. Joseph Health, Mass General Brigham, Care Health Insurance (formerly Religare), and several other notable names built and rolled out artificial intelligence-based chatbots to help with diagnostics at the first stage before a human-human virtual contact, especially while differentiating between possible COVID-19 cases and other ailments. The CDC also hosts an AI-driven chatbot on its website to help screen for coronavirus infections. Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered with a messaging app named Ratuken Viber, to develop an interactive chatbot for accurate information about COVID-19 in multiple languages. This allowed WHO to reach up to 1 billion people located anywhere in the world, at any time of the day, in their respective native languages.

For Care Health Insurance, Mantra Labs deployed their Conversational AI Chatbot with AR-based virtual support, called Hitee, trained to converse in multiple languages. This led to 10X interactions over the previous basic chatbot; 5X more conversions through Vanilla Web Experience; Drop-in Customer Queries over Voice Support by 20% among other benefits.

Artificial Intelligence’s role in the healthcare industry has been growing strength by strength over the years. According to the global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, AI spending in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries is expected to increase from $463 million in 2019 to more than $2 billion over the next 5 years, healthtechmagazine.net has reported. 

Speaking of key features available on a healthcare chatbot, Anonymity; Monitoring; Personalization; collecting Physical vitals (including oxygenation, heart rhythm, body temperature) via mobile sensors; monitoring patient behavior via facial recognition; Real-time interaction; and Scalability, feature top of the list. 

However, while covering the wide gamut of a healthcare bot’s capabilities, it is trained on the following factors to come in handy on a business or human-need basis. Read on: 

Remote, Virtual Consults 

Chatbots were seen surging exponentially in the year 2016, however, the year 2020 and onwards brought back the possibility of adding on to healthcare bot capabilities as people continued to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Chatbots work as the frontline customer support for Quick Symptom Assessment where the intent is understood and a patient’s queries are answered, including connection with an agent for follow-up service, Booking an Appointment with doctors, and more. 

Mental Health Therapy

Even though anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related disorders and their subsequent awareness have been the talk around the world, even before the pandemic hit, the pandemic year, once again could be attributed to increased use of bots to seek support or a conversation to work through their anxiety and more amid trying times. The popular apps, Woebot and Wysa, both gained popularity and recognition during the previous months as a go-to Wellness Advisor. 

An AI Wellness Advisor can also take the form of a chatbot that sends regular reminders on meal and water consumption timings, nutrition charts including requisite consultation with nutritionists, lifestyle advice, and more. 

Patient Health Monitoring via wearables 

Wearable technologies like wearable heart monitors, Bluetooth-enabled scales, glucose monitors, skin patches, shoes, belts, or maternity care trackers promise to redefine assessment of health behaviors in a non-invasive manner and helps acquire, transmit, process, and store patient data, thereby making it a breeze for clinicians to retrieve it as and when they need it.

Remote patient monitoring devices also enable patients to share updates on their vitals and their environment from the convenience and comfort of home, a feature that’s gained higher popularity amid the pandemic.

A healthcare chatbot for healthcare has the capability to check existing insurance coverage, help file claims and track the status of claims. 

What’s in store for the future of chatbots in Healthcare? 

The three main areas where healthcare chatbots can be particularly useful include timely health diagnostics, patient engagement outside medical facilities, and mental health care. 

According to Gartner, conversational AI will supersede cloud and mobile as the most important imperative for the next ten years. 

“For AI to succeed in healthcare over the long-term, consumer comfort and confidence should be front and center. Leveraging AI behind the scenes or in supporting roles could collectively ease us into understanding its value without risking alienation,” reads a May 2021 Forbes article titled, The Doctor Is In: Three Predictions For The Future Of AI In Healthcare. 

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