ACCESS Health China Explores Digital Solutions to Coronavirus Control and Infectious Disease Management

As the world struggles to manage the healthcare needs created in the wake of the latest coronavirus outbreak, our ACCESS Health China team has embarked on a new effort to identify digital health solutions that are playing critical roles in disease control. In China, where there have been more than 75,000 confirmed cases and 2,500 confirmed deaths, many digital health providers have launched new services and products to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and the devastation left in its wake.

Systematic studies on the roles and benefits of digital solutions in pandemic surveillance and containment is currently very limited. To fill that gap, ACCESS Health China team is conducting a real time study on digital solutions to the outbreak. The research will improve understanding of what digital health technologies have already done in response to the spread of COVID-19 and identify opportunities for the creation of additional digital solutions in the near future. The evidence based research will also lead to a set of recommendations for health authorities and other key stakeholders for future outbreaks.

The research team, which is funded entirely from ACCESS Health’s own budget, designed an adaptive, integrated disease surveillance and response framework consisting of five core elements:

  • Disease surveillance: monitoring and reporting
  • Response time: diagnosed patient tracking, control and management of suspected patients, and key area control
  • Epidemiological study: study of the virus and its mutations
  • Disease management: diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing management
  • Supportive activities: including fundraising, procurement, mental health support, communications

The team built a live database of digital solutions in China based on the five core elements of the disease epidemic response framework then selected more than thirty influential solutions for further study. Case studies were developed for each of these solutions, including the intervention methods to meet unmet needs, implementation of the technologies, the partners involved, and expected impacts. The research team is currently analyzing the remaining opportunities, key barriers, and policy gaps for each of the five core elements.

Both the database and the case study collection will be updated continuously as the outbreak evolves. ACCESS Health China will eventually combine all case studies into a final report on the roles and potential benefits of digital solutions in pandemic surveillance and containment. We expect the policy recommendations generated from the research to guide policy on how digital technologies can be incorporated into pandemic responses, not only in China but also in other regions of the world. ACCESS Health China is also working on building the bridge between health authority and major industry players to promote new partnerships and innovations to overcome the outbreak together.