The result has been Virtual Bed, an app designed to keep patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms out of hospital by making it easier for healthcare professionals to monitor them remotely. Now, PALO IT is offering it to governments and healthcare providers for free. Co-founder Tanguy Fournier Le Ray explains why.
What inspired PALO IT to create Virtual Bed?
We’ve been significantly affected by COVID-19, with a number of projects stopped or put on hold here in Australia. Although our revenue and profits are taking a hit, we believe that as a technology company we have a role to play in a difficult period like this.
While protecting the jobs within our teams is our number one priority, we also saw an opportunity to build something that might be helpful to people, or the healthcare sector. We did some research and interviewed some of our contacts in the National Health Service in the UK to better understand the gap in the market between existing solutions and the market need during COVID-19.
Based on this, our chief technology officer came up with Virtual Bed. We thought it made sense, especially for countries where the health system maybe isn’t as strong as it is here in Australia, or where the number of patients has exceeded capacity. There’s nothing terribly complex about the product, but we felt it could help to solve a real problem.
How does the app work?
The idea is for patients to log on and record their symptoms at regular intervals. The app stores details of any risk factors or pre-existing health conditions they may have, like diabetes or hypertension. You can also lodge other health metrics, including their temperature, respiratory and heart rate and blood pressure. This data is then used to create a National Early Warning Score. Healthcare professionals are able to monitor these scores on a dashboard and intervene if they feel a patient would benefit from seeing their GP or from coming into hospital.
The aim is to assist large numbers of people to recover at home if they’re able to, while providing them with support and peace of mind. It’s good for patients, but there are also broader benefits – keeping people who are only mildly ill out of hospital prevents them from spreading the virus and frees up beds for those whose symptoms are more severe.
An added bonus is that the app will generate a huge amount of data, which researchers will be able to use to study the disease as analytics are built in the product.