The year 2020 should have been the start of an exciting decade in medicine and Information Technology, with the development and maturation of several digital technologies that can be applied to tackle major clinical problems and diseases. These digital technologies include the internet of things (IoT) with next-generation telecommunication networks 5G, big-data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) that uses deep learning and block chain technology. They are highly inter-related the proliferation of the IoT e.g. devices and instruments in hospitals and clinics facilitates the establishment of a highly interconnected digital ecosystem, enabling real-time data collection at scale, which could then be used by AI and deep learning systems to understand healthcare trends, model risk associations and predict outcomes. This is enhanced by block chain technology, a back-linked database with cryptographic protocols and a network of distributed computers in different organizations, integrating peer-to-peer networks to ensure that data are copied in multiple physical locations, with modified algorithms to ensure data are secured but traceable.
Monitoring, Surveillance, Detection and prevention of COVID-19.
The IoT (Internet of Things) provides a platform that allows public health agencies access to data for monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. For eg. The WORLDOMETER provides a real time update’s on the actual number of people known to have COVID- 19 Worldwide, including daily new cases of the disease and severity of disease (recovered and critical condition or death).
BigData also provides opportunity for performing modeling studies of viral activity and for guiding individual country healthcare agencies to enhance preparation for the outbreak. By using three global database, the official aviation guide, the location based service and Wuhan Municipal transportation management. Performed a modeled study of now casting and forecasting COVID-19 disease activity within and outside of China that could be used by health authorities for public health planning and control worldwide.
Social Media can enhance public health education and communication. WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) to allow the public to receive accurate information about COVID-19 and Government initiatives. Multiple social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) are currently used by healthcare agencies to provide real time updates and clarify uncertainties with the public.
Artificial Intelligence and deep learning can enhance the detection and diagnosis of COVID-19.The need to provide access to accurate and low cost tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19 is a challenge. Many hospitals in China and other developing countries in Asia, Middle East and Africa do not have the tests or resources to accurately distinguish COVID-19 from Common Flu or Viral infection.
In Summary, while the world continues to rely on classic public health measures for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, there is now wide range of digital technology that can be used to augment and enhance these public health strategies. The immediate use and successful application of digital technology to tackle a major, global public health challenge in 2020 will probably increase the public and governmental acceptance of such technologies for other areas of healthcare including chronic disease in future. As the Saying goes “A Crisis provides an Opportunity” this first great crisis of 2020 provides a big opportunity for Digital Technology.