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ACCESS Health China Explores the use of Digital Technologies in Disease Outbreaks

In response to the global outbreak of a new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, ACCESS Health China team launched a new, internal research program to study the application of digital technologies for disease control during the current 2019-nCoV outbreak in China. Since the first coronavirus outbreak in China, SARS in 2002, there have been significant improvements in both medical technologies and internet and information technologies. ACCESS Health China’s latest research project will focus on identifying best practices in the use of digital technologies in outbreak situations and an analysis of how digital technologies can empower the disease control procedure and fulfill the unmet needs of patients, doctors, and the public.

Through the preliminary desktop research, we have selected around thirty cases in which digital technologies provided significant value, including how information systems improve epidemic surveillance, how big data can enable the mapping of population migration and travel of people with close contact to those infected, how artificial intelligence empowers the epidemiological study, how internet connected hospitals and telemedicine help both doctors and patients, and how the internet and social media platforms create impact in information communication and social support. As the research evolves, we expect to deliver a series of success factors based on these case studies and to develop guidelines for the use of digital technologies in disease control. In the spirit of collaboration, we will continue to engage with stakeholders working on the outbreak to collectively solve the challenges we are facing now and may be facing again in the future.