Amidst the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019, people all over the world are turning to coronavirus apps to help keep them informed. Several coronavirus apps have been developed and launched since the outbreak, most of which are used to track the spread of the disease.
What features should a coronavirus mobile app include to promote physical distancing and combat the spread of COVID-19? Based on 18 years of experience building healthcare mobile apps and assessing the current environment, we recommend the following:
The best way to combat fear and misinformation is through education. Patient education within coronavirus mobile apps can be used to cover the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19, including:
- Overview and frequently asked questions
- Signs and symptoms
- Safety precautions
- False information
A coronavirus app can also link to reliable external resources (i.e., CDC and WHO), provide information on clinician visit/scheduling procedures, statistics, and developing news. Health education content can also be used to update patients on new protocols taken by healthcare organizations to combat COVID-19. Additionally, patients could track medical facility wait times in real-time to prevent patients from crowding reception areas and spreading the virus.
Access To Health Records
Coronavirus apps allow patients to access their health records and COVID-19 test results, which are generally available within a few hours to two days.
A coronavirus mobile app enables patients to access lab results and monitor their current health to make better-informed decisions. Healthcare providers can be alerted to lab results and work with patients to handle a positive or negative outcome. Unlike other applications, Medical Web Experts still maintain patient privacy and HIPAA compliance during this crisis; lab results remain confidential between the patient and provider. However, healthcare providers may be required to share results with governing bodies. Access to testing results through a mobile app also allows patients to share with concerned parties such as their employers.
Healthcare authorities have suggested that if patients are concerned by symptoms, they are experiencing, to first contact a healthcare professional remotely. They are urging against visiting a clinic directly for diagnosis, unless symptoms are extreme, as this can further spread the virus. Based on this recommendation, direct HIPAA-compliant messaging between patient and provider allows patients to receive information from a trusted source and facilitate the next steps in personal health management remotely. HIPAA-compliant messaging also offers patients confidentiality in environments where the coronavirus is stigmatized and allows patients in rural areas to speak with healthcare professionals during a time when resources and access are strained.
Developing a HIPAA-compliant coronavirus mobile app enables medical and healthcare organizations to provide quality remote care during this time. Once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, these healthcare mobile apps deliver sustained value through improved patient experience, better patient outcomes, enhanced patient-physician communication, and simplified internal workflows.