THE SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM
“As people wait for their turn to get tested, the infected people increase chances of spreading the infection to people who don’t have the disease. If we could prioritise those with serious symptoms and treated them ASAP, we could avoid further transmission of the disease and flatten the curve.”
SHORTCOMINGS OF THE APP
Some medical professionals have concerns about replacing the expertise of medical professionals with an app. One registered nurse who works at a large hospital in northern BC (who asked that we withhold her name due to fear of repercussions) said she agrees that hospitals are over-crowded and that the situation has grown worse since the outbreak.
She shares concerns how people are going to doctors in hospitals for minor ailments, even when they don’t necessarily need to. According to her, those people are putting themselves at risk as they come into close contact with the patients that are sick.
“If they don’t have COVID and they go to a doctor/hospital when they don’t need to, they’re increasing their risk of exposure as well as the chances of transmitting to other vulnerable people who could get sick. If they do have COVID but their symptoms aren’t severe enough to warrant an assessment or hospitalisation and they go anyway, they’re potentially exposing everyone they come into contact with.”- (name withheld), Registered Nurse.
She adds that she can definitely see how Verma’s new app could help people determine if their symptoms and circumstances require a hospital visit and if further assessment or testing is needed.
However, she notes that the assessment skills of a doctor or nurse cannot be replaced by an app and that people might go to a hospital regardless of what the app results are.
“It would definitely still be necessary, especially in more severe cases. Some people are so scared of all of this that they would go regardless of what an app like that told them.”
She adds that one of the key shortcomings of the app would be accessibility. People who do not have a smart phone or tablet would be unable to use the app, as well as those that might not be as technologically literate as the younger generations.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
According to Verma, the app is powered by machine learning. It currently uses randomly generated sample data and predicts the likelihood of someone having the disease with 91% accuracy.
All he needs is real data that describes patients and their symptoms. He has reached out to NDP leader Jagmeet’s Singh’s office and the Prime Minister’s office for pubic data.
“I have an expectation from both Jagmeet Singh’s and Prime Minister Trudeau’s offices, since I talked to them directly.”-Tanush Parkash Verma, BCIT Student
He says that he hopes to get actual data from the government and healthcare professionals so that it can be made a true success.