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How data and technology has led to a faster Covid-19 response

Published Sep 4, 2020


CAPE TOWN- Digital health technology and data collection are increasingly being used to combat and contain the spread of the global Covid-19 pandemic, and healthcare services have had to embrace new models of care in the race to save lives.

BroadReach, a group of social impact businesses, hosted an online meeting with industry leaders to explore how data and technology have helped to speed up the time for health services to respond to Covid-19.

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Through the discussion, three key themes emerge where innovative technology data and human action can make a lasting positive impact.

1. Access to real-time data is essential

The need to track Covid-19 and where the hotspots are has fueled innovation to visually display disease burden. Real-time data helps produce a steady flow of information on the cloud and enables targeted, intelligent and swift action.

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Department of Health in Mpumalanga slowed the spread of Covid-19 and was able to direct health resources rapidly using live data to identify potential hotspots and coordinate a response.

The health department focused on presumptive screening results and used BroadReach’s Vantage cloud platform, with advanced geo-mapping technology, to identify potential clusters or hotspots.

Acting Chief Director of Integrated Health in Mpumalanga, Bheki Mdlovu, said, "We used presumptive screening data, collected via a mobile application so that we could ensure the data was available in real-time”.

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2. Augmented intelligence enables rapid and informed action plans

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the acceleration to how we create, harness and use data technology to help health professionals to make better decisions faster.

Human intelligence, combined with artificial intelligence (AI), has enabled decision-makers to upload, access, integrate and analyse data in real-time. The population health management system provides recommended actions and workflows, which includes data and directions for managing comorbidities, maintaining a healthy workforce, and contact tracing.

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3. Collaboration and leadership is needed to achieve common goals

Group CEO at BroadReach, Chris LeGrand, said leadership and sustainability is vital throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“By harnessing the power of collaboration and leadership in combating this pandemic, we are better placed to extend access to basic healthcare, thus getting closer to the United Nations goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for every human. This could be a positive legacy for Covid-19.”

The vital ingredient to pandemic response is leadership. “Ultimately, leaders cause things to happen that would not happen otherwise. For this reason, leadership is essential to drive the wheels of change,” said LeGrand.

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