Recently Apple and Google partnered together on contract tracing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing makes it possible to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus by alerting participants of potential exposure to someone who they have recently been in contact with, and who has subsequently been positively diagnosed as having the illness. In Apple’s news release, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.
The existing app without contact tracing is available for iPhone and iPad. The same information is available separately on Apple’s COVID-19 website, which is also being regularly updated. According to the Bluetooth protocol released by Apple, maintaining user privacy is an essential requirement in the design of this specification.
All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments, and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID‑19 and accelerate the return of everyday life. – Apple News Release Statement
Examples of COVID-19 Digital Health Tools and Resources
Apple and Google are also on the same page in terms of cracking down on apps related to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Both companies are mainly responding that anything related to the coronavirus must be released by an official health organization or government. However, typing in COVID-19 online tool will almost surely leave you overwhelmed as you try to sift through the many offerings (excluding all the symptom checkers that virtually every health system promotes on their website).
For this article, let’s put aside privacy and security questions concerning some products launched into the marketplace, and focus instead on the basic idea and intended goal of the initiative. This is not an exhaustive list of COVID-19 related tools and resources, I primarily focused on the types of tools being developed. These include 1) research studies/clinical trials, 2) telemedicine/provider portals, 3) self-assessments/symptom checker tools, and 4) COVID-19 testing site finder/COVID-19 trackers/additional resources.
Research Studies & Clinical Trials
Scripps Research – DETECT health study
Scripps Research designed DETECT (Digital Engagement & Tracking for Early Control & Treatment), a study that will monitor your heart rate and allow you to record symptoms like fever or coughing. This is captured through wearable devices that measure your resting heart rate. The goal of the study is to identify areas with viral outbreaks quickly.
If you have a wearable device that tracks your heart rate, please consider joining DETECT. Simply install the mobile app, MyDataHelps™, and help out with scientific research that has the potential to improve the health of people everywhere.
ClinicalTrials.gov – Find My Clinical Trial
Through ClinicalTrials.gov, you can find universities, hospitals, health systems, and pharmaceutical companies conducting trials to test therapies and treatments to help improve care for COVID-19 patients, advance vaccine development, and help put an end to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
For contact information to apply for a clinical trial, click on the trial you’re interested in, then select “Contacts and Locations.” Always consult your healthcare provider before enrolling in a clinical trial.
Telehealth & Provider Portals
CPSI – Talk With Your Doc
Telehealth shouldn’t just be a temporary band-aid during the COVID-19 crisis. It can be a new way to build long-term relationships that span from hands-on visits in-person to personalized digital engagement online.
TalkWithYourDoc.com allows the patient to fill out a COVID-19 screening survey, complete an initial questionnaire, and provide information about his or her underlying conditions and device readings (such as blood sugar). The patient portal also offers a suite of tools, including health journals, integration with home health devices, and a list of tasks that the provider would like the patient to complete. The provider portal enables the review of a patient’s health profile in preparation for the virtual appointment.
Talk With Your Doc is currently advertised as free for the rest of 2020 for any healthcare provider in the U.S. with absolutely no obligation.
C Spire Health & University of Mississippi Medical Center – UMMC Virtual COVID-19 Triage
The goal for this partnership is to help Mississippi cancel COVID-19. C Spire Health partnered with UMMC to offer free telehealth visits for all Mississippians who have COVID-19 symptoms. This offer is currently available to all users located in Mississippi, and you don’t have to be a C Spire customer. The only catch is that you must be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to be serviced.
The CDC is recommending video visits to help you reduce exposure to germs. With C Spire Health, UMMC clinicians can triage patients, determine who should be tested for COVID-19, and provide care plans.
Visits through C Spire Health app are free for a limited time, and no insurance is required. UMMC clinicians can quickly assess your symptoms over video chat and determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
UMMC clinicians are available 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
HCA Healthcare – COVID-19 National Response Portal
HCA Healthcareannounces a partnership with Google Cloud and SADA on a new COVID-19 open data platform named the COVID-19 National Response Portal to help communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The HCA website has also added a COVID-19 questionnaire.
The project will start using aggregated data from HCA’s 185 hospitals. The healthcare giant said it had invited groups representing 4,000 hospitals across the U.S. to share data on the platform. The portal is being rolled out in phases, starting with information on hospitals’ available resources and the number of local cases. Additionally, Ames clarified that the data won’t flow to third parties — including Google — without additional consent from healthcare organizations.
HCA Healthcare, SADA, and Google Cloud are in the process of sharing additional details and seeking to onboard other hospitals.
HealthTap – free virtual “COVID consult”
On March 26, 2020, HealthTap began offering one free virtual doctor visit to anyone in the U.S. who is worried about symptoms that could be related to COVID-19 or just feeling ill. HealthTap is entirely independent of insurance benefits and does not require a previous or existing doctor relationship. The company will continue to offer one free virtual visit per person for as long as it has capacity. HealthTap is calling on all U.S.-based doctors with active medical licenses in good standing to join this critical effort.
HealthTap is also offering unlimited access to top U.S. doctors for $119/year. Get as many virtual doctor visits as you need for any primary healthcare concern, including COVID-19 follow-up care. Doctors available 24/7 for just $119/year. Previously, this price was open only to people who had access to HealthTap through an employer.
Oracle TLS is a system that collects real-world data about COVID-19 patients and their prescribed treatments. The system allows healthcare providers and agencies a fast way to study COVID-19 patient outcomes in aggregate.
We’ve learned that when it comes to personal health, the most important action people take is often the very first one. – Steve Miller, MD, Chief Clinical Officer, Cigna
Self-Assessments / Symptom Checker Tools
Ascension – COVID-19 Self-Assessment
Apple – Apple COVID-19 Screening Tool
Apple’s COVID-19 screening tool was developed in partnership with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The device was designed to help you understand what to do next about COVID-19.
According to the announcement, Apple is not collecting your answers from the screening tool.
The Symptom Checker tool incorporates guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help categorize people’s risk level as low, medium, or high and make the appropriate recommendations.
Verily – The Baseline COVID-19 Program
The Baseline COVID-19 Program is a collaboration between Verily’s Project Baseline and the state of California to expand access to COVID-19 screening and testing in areas with a high volume of known cases.
Verily’s program is currently offering free testing for COVID-19 in these California counties: Sacramento, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Riverside, and San Joaquin.
98point6 – free Coronavirus Assessment Tool
98point6 is tripling its physician pool by the end of April and has launched a new patient dashboard. In general, 98point6 provides on-demand primary care services for consumers and health plans that can be accessed through the company’s mobile app. The platform uses artificial intelligence and a text-based interface to collect information about the user and build a patient profile before matching them with a practitioner.
Virtual care plays an important part in enabling self-quarantine and physical distancing to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. – Dr. Brad Younggren, chief medical officer of 98point6
COVID-19 Testing Site Finder, COVID-19 Trackers & Additional Resources
Castlight Health – COVID-19 Test Site Finder: Get Information on Coronavirus Testing Near You
Along with the standard self-assessment questionnaire, Castlight Health’s COVID-19 resources webpage has a tool to help you navigate where the nearest COVID-19 test relative to your location.
Healthlynked – Healthlynked COVID-19 Tracker
Based on the clinical and research expertise of Stanford Medicine faculty, The Stanford Medicine First Responder COVID-19 Guide is designed to inform and screen the individuals our communities depend on most for access to necessary goods and services. This app includes answers to many questions about COVID-19 directly from expert physicians and scientists at Stanford Medicine.
Uses for the application include understanding COVID-19, assessing personal risk, know when to get tested, and to access valuable resources and trusted information.
Now available: Guidance for establishing testing sites
The COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Guide is designed to help government officials, public health departments, and local communities develop drive-through testing sites, using the lessons learned from setting up and running the first California community-based testing sites. These guidelines also include instructions for integrating with the Baseline COVID-19 Program. Parties adopting this guide should work with their clinical operations, environmental health and safety teams, and their state and local authorities to ensure compliance with relevant laws.
This is an incomplete list of COVID-19 related tools and resources. This list will not be continuously updated. The intention of this post was to point out examples of tools and resources on the market that have received a fair amount of news and reporting.