Ensure mass public health surveillance during pandemics such as COVID-19 by using RPA solutions on the cloud

Rajesh Agarwal, SVP & Head – Robotic Process Automation, Datamatics Global Services Ltd. | Thursday, 14 May 2020, 12:40 IST


COVID-19 may or may not have been the fall out of mass commercialization that resulted in creating a turf for antigens to transcend the natural barriers and create drug resistant strains. But when the resultant virulence results in a mass scale global pandemic, the state authorities have to quickly take stringent measures. One of them is rapid public health surveillance and what a great idea it is to assist it with the latest of the information technologies, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Earlier, state infrastructures had the option to adopt automation solutions at their discretion. But as pandemics surge putting a high pressure on the state health machinery, the only option is automation in order to share as well as source information across a distributed network of health providers across the nation.

How can RPA assist in public surveillance during COVID-19 like pandemics?

It is popularly known that local doctors, diagnostics, and hospitals are the first point of contact as well as succor for patients. A patient may not know that he has been afflicted by a particular antigen, but the treating doctors and the local clinics can diagnose it faster than any rapid action team, which usually focuses on only a sample target population. The health infrastructure points inevitably have Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, which are interconnected in small networks at a local level. They are synchronized across the connecting points but depending on the availability of staff and at pre-defined intervals only.

RPA solutions help here. These solutions can interconnect the siloed systems not only across a city, a state, but at a national level with a governing body at the centre. Not only that. These systems can be connected across the globe for rapid information sharing in real-time with a central global authority using RPA solutions hosted on Cloud. With this solution in place, you can distribute the pressure experienced by the health infrastructure by sourcing as well as sharing the information collected across wider geographies. No more just sample testing but real-time testing and real-time information sharing especially so when the patients in the infected state may or may not show symptoms as well as the patients who have already recovered are still in the stage of virus shedding.

At a national level, these RPA solutions have to be deployed in a top-down approach with a central, national level authority in the driver’s seat. RPA solutions are unique and allow a two-way information sharing across the pre-defined pathways. Cloud hosting gives tremendous compute power. This crowd sourced big data can be further tested in the ambits of Artificial Intelligence to come up with intelligent patterns, which are not easily visible to a mind accustomed only to linear thinking. This pattern generation is immensely useful to curb the droplet borne transition from spreading any further or thwarting the suspicions of the pandemic becoming air borne right in the bud to avoid community spread.

Is an RPA solution more of crowd sourcing?

RPA is not crowd sourcing. It makes the use of real data collected from EMRs and EHRs in a timely manner to deal with emergency and war-like situations.

The key during pandemics is the availability of the right information at the right time without putting pressure on the healthcare authorities, who may have reached the point of exhaustion. This timely information is also crucial when treating patients with comorbidities, lung diseases, and asthama, who use topical air pump medicines instead of the contemporary medicines as their bodily systems are already distressed.

The information is also important when surveilling and checking cases that  may be living in crowded areas but still having a low rate of disease progression or transmission due to the use of air-borne disinfectants instead of water-based ones curbing the disease spread in the vicinity of their residence.

In summary

The key in dealing with pandemics is the fast sourcing of authentic data in real-time at one place at a central authority level such that it can be quickly analyzed to make a focused use of limited resources. Pandemics can disappear as fast as they surface due to the right decision making at the right time. In order to be successful, you need to source real data from ground zero at a central place. RPA solutions on cloud offer that robust infrastructure to deal with emergencies in a fast and secure manner by integrating the local EMR and EHR systems at a national level and enable to be prepared to deal with any emergency or war-like situations in the future.