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Analysis

Technology Lifting Hospital Burden

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 08/12/2020 - 14:42

Hopes on technology and digitalization have drove countries to develop their own apps to trace COVID-19 contagion or to try to keep people at home when presenting slight health discomforts or having mild COVID-19 symptoms. Amid the pandemic and given the number of people that live in the Mexico City metropolitan area, hospital capacity could be severely threatened. MBN interviewed Oliva López, Minister of Health of Mexico City, to understand how one of the largest cities in the world has responded to the crisis.

López explained that technology is almost all around the capital, however an app was not enough to reach all citizens so the ministry created an extra tool that could complement the already existent apps that the federal government has launched with information about COVID-19 symptoms. “The Digital Public Innovation Agency contributed greatly by creating a text message option to filter patients with mild symptoms and encourage them to stay home, allowing SEDESA to offer telephone follows-ups and to provide general recommendations regarding isolation for suspicious cases,” she said. The minster added that the text message method also allowed the ministry to identify delicate cases linked to other morbidities to encourage patients to go to the hospital or more carefully monitor their symptoms.

Chile has also taken advantage of technology to better face the pandemic. Alongside EY, the government developed a digital solution that allows remote guidance through an app. In an interview with MBN, Roberto Aguilera, Health and Life Sciences Advisory Leader at EY Latam North, explained how this development works. “Through artificial intelligence, the app detects possible COVID-19 cases as Chilean users are asked to fill in a survey about their current health status. When detecting a case, the app is able to provide digital consultations with a doctor to confirm if the person is COVID-19-positive.” According to Aguilera, this app has elevated COVID-19 testing in Chile and has also resulted in more manageable flows of patients, who cannot visit a medical facility without a previous digital approval to do so.

For a more in-depth understanding of the impact and helpfulness of technology during the COVID-19 crisis, Ricardo Renteria, Sales Management Enterprise Lead Amazon Web Services, told MBN that the company developed a service called AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, which is a supporting tool for companies. “This program supports customers working on better, more accurate diagnostic solutions and promotes better collaboration across organizations solving similar problems.” In Mexico, the company developed a project alongside a client company called Roomie IT Services. “This is the first and only 100 percent Mexican organization to develop, produce and sell humanoid robotics in Mexico which, in collaboration with infectious disease experts, designed a prototype robot whose purpose is to identify suspicious cases of COVID-19.” Renteria explained that the main objective of the robot is to protect medical staff and patients and prevent the spread of infection. He pointed out that it strengthens the health system at the height of the pandemic, acting as a first point of contact in hospitals. “The robot identifies suspicious cases but does not diagnose them, so it does not replace doctors,” Renteria concluded.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst