App developed by Stanford and Apple guides symptomatic first responders through the process of getting tested for coronavirus
- The app will help first responders figure out if they need testing
- It will survey paramedics, firefighters, and policemen on symptoms
- The results can be displayed to healthcare workers
- It could also be rolled out to other essential employees like grocery cashiers
Apple and Stanford Medicine have teamed up to design an app that helps facilitate COVID-19 testing for first responders like firefighters and paramedics.
Specifically, the app takes a survey of the user’s symptoms to discern whether they have any signs of COVID-19, and then recommends for them to go get testing based on their input.
A first responder can then take the results to whoever is in charge of monitoring employee health at their workplace and then get scheduled for priority testing using the Stanford Health Care website.
An app develop in tandem by Stanford Medicine and Apple (pictured) is helping ensure first responders receive proper testing
Apple says that the data generated by the app stays on a user’s device and isn’t shared or harvested by Apple or Stanford, but can be relayed to their healthcare provider if desired.
Stanford said it’s starting to roll out the app with firefighters, paramedics, and police officers who are among the most vulnerable public workers when it comes to risk of infection.
In the event that those workers fall ill, it could also endanger the general public, not just through increasing their exposure, but by limiting resources available to help others in need.
‘If we have a first responder who has symptoms, it’s really important for them to get screened and potentially test it because they’re going to be very patient-facing and very community-facing. That’s what their jobs are,’ Dr. Bob Harrington, chairman of the Stanford Department of Medicine, told CNBC.
While the app is currently only available in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in California, but could be expanded to other counties and states.
Testing has been a crucial part of ensuring that COVID-19 doesn’t continue spreading, but has fallen short in the US and elsewhere. By weeding out unnecessary tests, scientists hope they can ensure tests are available for those that really need them (stock)
It could also be deployed to other workers who have been deemed ‘essential’ such as grocery store cashiers and other public employees like sanitation workers or those who work in public transportation.
Another benefit, according to Stanford, is that the app can potentially filter out patients who don’t need to be tested which would free up testing resources for people who are actually at risk.
All of the data is protected by Apple encryption, including its ResearchKit and CareKit software which are used in the tech giant’s other healthcare ventures like software used in its Health app and fitness information collected via Apple Watches.