Govt of Telangana deploys US-based healthtech startup’s app to track COVID-19 cases in the state
Vera Smart Healthcare uses GPS and Geotagging to identify, track, monitor and provide real-time analytics to the Chief Minister and Health Department of Telangana.
The Public Health and Family Welfare Department of the Government of Telangana announced that it has deployed India’s first automated COVID-19 Monitoring System App. The application, developed by Vera Smart Healthcare, will be used to identify, undertake live surveillance, track, monitor, and provide real-time analytics to the Chief Minister and the Health Department of the state.
“Among the vital features of the app is Geotagging and GPS tracking of the home quarantined persons, to ensure that they are not breaching the law of quarantine. With instant trace and trackability, accurate information is pushed to the authorities, when there is a breach. Every detail reported reaches the Chief Minister’s office through various updates including ASHA workers, doctors, police, and concerned bureaucrats,” Dharma Teja Nukarapu, Founder and CEO of Vera, tells YourStory.
Vera’s technology is based on IoT (internet of things), smart devices, GPS, and Geotag, via the centralised monitoring system application. The application is installed in the phones of people working on the ground, to the Chief Minister’s office. Additionally, all stakeholders have been given comprehensive training on using the app.
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Dr G Srinavas Rao, Director of Public Health said,
“Vera’s Centralised COVID-19 Monitoring System is timely technology innovation. It has eased the pain by providing effective surveillance, and deploying a meticulous tech-enabled method to collate vital data, at the click of a button. Thus, empowering active associates across the state, from hierarchical polity to bureaucracy, to the front line ASHA and ANM works, to make COVID-19, a history.”
Genesis of the startup
Vera Smart Healthcare was founded eight months ago, after it branched out from the 2016-founded North Carolina-based company Fellow Healthtech. Headquartered in the US, Vera also has an office in Hyderabad.
Dharma, who holds a Masters degree in Computer Science from Wichita State University, had previously founded Shark Dreams, which was later renamed as Fellow Healthtech.
Vera’s services include smart hospitals or mobile hospitals, “Which are designed and developed by Vera ensuring care follows the patient, rather being the other way,” says Dharma. It reaches patients in rural India through its door-to-door services, mobile, remote, home and camp services, and ensures access to healthcare facilities.
“Our screening time for a patient is less than a minute,” he adds.
Vera is focused on health empowerment and its “ambition is to bring healthcare access to everyone equally, irrespective of economical and physical challenges,” says Dharma. All its services are technology-oriented.
It is also set to roll out mobile clinics with ventilator support so that those who are quarantined in rural India, if and when tested positive, can be immediately shifted to a remote isolation bus, instead of travelling to a tertiary healthcare facility in the city.
How does the app work?
The COVID-19 monitoring app was developed in three days. The app will empower health callers to handle more than 1,500 plus calls every day. It also has an in-built chatbot to enable interactions with the patients, enabling the state to remain updated about the symptomatic, or confirmed positive cases, the number of citizens quarantined, and are under treatment. Callers will also persuade and remind patients to self-administer the prescribed treatment, and maintain social distancing.
“The Monitoring System which is built on a digital platform, erases human errors, and provides accurate information. The quick turnaround and the innovative psyche has initiated improved surveillance, tracking, effective monitoring, and supervision,” Srinivas added.
Vera is also preparing to release a batch of ‘Smart Patch’. The Smart Patch tags COVID-19 patients geographically, monitoring them and disseminating their real-time health progress.
The Monitoring System
The COVID-19 Monitoring System deployed by the Government of Telangana will be accessible and used by the following stakeholders:
- ASHA and ANM workers who are at the frontline of fighting this pandemic. At any given point of time, up to 2,000 of ASHA and ANM workers will be using the applications. In totality, 5,000 ASHA and ANM workers are involved and are using the app to identify, register, track, monitor and report the health condition of the patients who are home quarantined for showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- The 4,800 Primary Healthcare Sub-Center, which would be receiving data from the ASHA workers and pushing them to the next level.
- 886 Primary Healthcare Centers in the state, who would take the data from the sub-centres and push them to the District Medical Health Office.
- The officer-in-charge of the District Medical Health Office will take charge of the situation in their respective districts, by following the concerned hierarchical Officer at the Health Department, to whom the data is transmitted.
The web application developed by Vera will not be released for public use. Available for free, it can run on any web device which need not be a high-end smartphone. According to the founder, the app is currently being used by approximately 20,000 government authorised personnel.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)
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