• Debashrita Tripathy and Sanjukta Kumar

Technologies Powering Resilience in Urban Healthcare

COVID-19 has imposed challenges that most of us have not seen in our lifetime. The pandemic has turned our world upside down. We’re struggling with problems that we never imagined. Be it isolating yourself at home, managing work from home, handling the chores, sanitizing your touch points, or getting access to critical health care facilities. The impact of COVID-19 has been so profound that recent history will be divided into Pre-Covid and Post-Covid eras.

As the pandemic is hitting us hard, an invisible force is helping us get through this tough time. We’re seeing a wave of new technology solutions emerging almost overnight. These solutions present use cases that address problems faced in times of pandemic and lockdowns. But with multiple solutions cropping up, we face issues in identifying the solutions that meet our individual needs.

We discuss here a few technology solutions which we feel you must know to get through this tough time.

Virtual health-care support services:

Tele-medicine is becoming one of the most useful technology applications during the pandemic. It offers IT-enabled healthcare services in diagnostics, treatment, and prevention of disease. It enables access to doctors, tests, and medicines over the phone. You can use apps like 1mg, Practo, Doctor 24x7, and Mediassist for the same.

Some ventures have launched ‘COVID Homecare Plan’ to provide end-to-end healthcare solutions for covid care. Startups like MFine & Navia Life Care offer a 14-day service for covid recovery, including doctor consultations, monitoring, medicine delivery and an essential home-care kit.

1mg, Mediplus, Wellness forever, Medibuddy, Netmeds, amongst others are providing contactless delivery of medicines at your doorstep. Delivery of home-cooked ‘tiffin services’ has transformed itself and gained popularity in covid care segment across the country. Ootabox in Bengaluru, Healthylicion Kitech in New Delhi, Yummytiffins in Mumbai and HotPot Tiffin are a few examples.

To combat mental health problems during COVID19, technology platforms are offering specialised solutions for emotional well-being. Wysa is an AI chatbot that leverages evidence-based cognitive-behavioral techniques (CBT) to make you feel heard. Blended with professional human support, Wysa provides 24/7 high-quality mental health support. It is tailored to cater to various sections of people. It helps in coping with pandemic anxiety and lockdowns. It is anonymous, safe and free. InnerHour, ePsyclinic provides similar services.

Tracing and containment services:

Contact tracing is an effective tool in identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to the virus to prevent onward transmission. Ventures like Transerve Technology, Thinkerbell Lab’s CAWACH, Q-app and Ramco systems are helping the government administration to contain virus in hyper-local communities. Typical solutions use geo-sptial analytics, machine learning models and predictive analytics. At the same time, ventures like BlueSemi and Heathcube’s COVIDSAFE are working with the corporate sector to monitor and secure workspaces.

Precaution is better than cure. Measures like health mapping and symptoms tracking can help in effective tracing through cluster identification for hyper-local containment. Aiisma is an India data marketplace equipped with geo-location sharing and health-mapping features. The app allows users to update their health data regularly to identify any anomalies. The data can be used without sharing personal details for relevant authorities to take preventive actions. It includes features like alerts for high density of positive cases in hyper-local geographies. Similar services are being provided by AI Highway and Dozee.

Diagnostic centres like Thyrocare, Suburban Diagnostics, Metropolis Labs India, Abbott India ltd are offering antibody testing to understand the population exposure to COVID19. They’re offering services to identify potential plasma donors. Further, the data can be acquired through sero surveys to understand the extent of herd immunity.

Self-use covid test kits are a recent addition. CoviFind by Meril Diagnostics and CoviShelf by Mylab Discovery Solutions are two devices approved by ICM.

Advanced health-care diagnostic services:

Artificial intelligence is being deployed to find healthcare diagnostic is a Mumbai-based healthcare provider that provides a chest X-ray interpretation tool. The tool automatically detects up to 29 abnormalities. The tool automates the interpretation of COVID-19 proliferation from chest X-rays, making it easier for healthcare professionals to monitor the extent and rate of viral infection progression. It helps in categorising patients into high, medium, or low-risk and attending to their needs accordingly.

CoVawe, a product by Docturnal, is a screening tool for Covid-19 with the sound of the cough. It will help with the at-home screening of pulmonary tuberculosis. Through a mobile app, the product screens the sound of a person’s cough from home. However, in a clinical setting, an external microphone array is provided. It offers real-time results leveraging Machine Learning over Aural and Clinical inputs. The product portfolio also includes solutions for COPD, Asthma, Paediatric TB.

Dozee is a fast-growing contactless remote health monitoring startup that tracks heart health, respiration, sleep quality and stress levels with 98.4% accuracy as compared to medical devices. Several, Covid-19 high dependency unit (HDU) beds are being monitored continuously in institutional settings. Dozee has also set up a patient monitoring cell within hospitals to ensure 24/7 on-ground support and alert escalation.

Vaccination notification and resource location services:

For COVID19 vaccination drive, the Government of India has created CoWIN interface for registration and appointment for vaccination. However, due to paucity of support infrastructure for vaccination, citizens are facing issues in getting appointments for vaccination. Sensing an unmet need, apps like Vaccine Finder by Paytm, by HealthifyMe, Under 45, GetJab, FindSlot, Signzy offer to notify the users on availability of vaccination slots.

Resource locators like, Verifiedcovidleads and Covrelief are providing AI enabled technologies to locate real time resources on oxygen, hospital, medicine availability, and much more.

Artificial Intelligence has opened possibilities for medical chatbots. They use natural language processing (NLP) methods to respond to user needs. They deploy standard protocols based on user diagnostics. It helps in reducing the burden on healthcare personnel. It can automate processes and responses to routine operations.

Technology has penetrated the healthcare sector totally differently during COVID-19. Orientation towards user needs, development of new use cases, deployment of AI and ML models have created new lines of services in the healthcare sector. These services are making healthcare more affordable and more accessible. Learning from these use-cases should encourage the Government Authorities to design policies so that innovative technology startups can be fostered and scaled up easily. We may well remember the decade of the 2020s as the decade in which digital technology reshaped the healthcare system.

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