With Coronavirus on the Rise, how could Digital Health Prevent it from Spreading?

POSTED BY Nick Maynard
With more than 3,000 deaths, and over 94,000 confirmed cases worldwide, it’s no surprise that Coronavirus is the hottest topic in the news. In the age we live in, how can technology help prevent these viruses/diseases from spreading?
Whilst Public Health professionals are battling against a wave of misinformation being provided on social media, people who are feeling ill are being urged not to go to their doctors. Telehealth enables people to contact healthcare experts; allowing them to remain at home while being contagious. More and more Telehealth companies like Babylon Health are being created; providing access to healthcare, including personalised health assessments, treatment advice and face-to-face appointments with a doctor 24/7. Additional benefits of telehealth include reducing pressure on doctor’s surgeries and hospitals, as individuals can receive advice via video consultation or a simple telephone booking service. This is especially beneficial to short-staffed facilities.
i. Future Outlook: Chatbots
Juniper Research believes that the healthcare sector is one of the most relevant for the use of chatbots. These can be defined as ‘a computer program utilising technology designed to simulate conversational interactions with human users, which may also include automated processes triggered from these interactions’. Chatbots can be applied in both the diagnosis of ailments but also as a vital resource for patients learning to live with chronic diseases.

Figure 1: Your.MD Chatbot

So far chatbots have not been integrated into healthcare delivery, but the US is the furthest along in incorporating the technology in service delivery.
Juniper Research believes that there will be numerous health services utilising chatbots in the future, particularly in the area of ailment diagnosis. Several major health services, including the NHS, are seeking to launch mobile apps for this very purpose, with the aim of cutting patient waiting times at A&E (Accident & Emergency), as well as staffing costs.
ii. Future Outlook: Digital Voice Assistants
Chatbots and mobile apps will increasingly incorporate voice-based digital assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Amazon and Google now publish SDKs to integrate third-party services (called ‘Skills’ by Amazon and ‘Actions’ by Google). These are essentially apps that run on the voice assistant, allowing additional services or features to be delivered through it.
Microsoft is working on an assistant dedicated to healthcare. The Aurora Digital Assistant looks to help patients with their ailments, inform them of their options and book an appointment with a doctor.
When it comes to healthcare, several strong use cases have already been developed, which can be delivered as third-party services.
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